Certain public university systems – Hawaii, Alaska, New Mexico – wallow.

They wallow. They simmer in their own juices. They don’t get nowhere.

To be sure, they’re corrupt. I don’t want you to think they aren’t corrupt, or that there isn’t a connection between their being corrupt and their wallowing. There’s a direct connection. People can certainly make money off of wallowing.

On this blog, we make a point of following the nothingness of these schools, with a particular eye on their sports programs, since here the futility, absurdity, and nihilism is at its most obvious.

Take New Mexico. Here’s a typical recent article about it in the local press.

First sentence:

Missed budget projections, lingering debt and low game attendance have all contributed to serious financial troubles at the University of New Mexico Athletics Department.

There’s no there there, see? No one’s at the games – UD is surprised the teams show up – nobody’s in budgeting … The schools I’m talking about, located in America’s nature wonderlands, are an extension of their magnificent silent mountains, their deep echoing oceans, their stretches of frozen tundra…

Crucial to this vast chasm is a really stupid and corrupt state legislature, and all three of these states have them. A certain dance is danced, to be sure… I mean, like clockwork, when a school like New Mexico is in such profound shit that it demands more money from the state, the state says whoa wait uh what’s up over there? What you guys been doing? Didn’t we, uh, give you some money…? Don’t we give you some money every year…? So the head of the House appropriations committee pledges to

take a “fine toothed comb” to the UNM Athletics budget before determining what additional funding looks like, if any.

“We are going to dive into these numbers very closely,” Rep. [Patty] Lundstrom said. “The questions I am going to ask are about compensation packages. I want to know what benefits these coaches and the athletic director have. I want to know how much over their base pay they are receiving of taxpayers’ dollars.”

Yeah cuz for the last hundred years or so while the school lies there on the ground dead all the money we send you goes to the athletic staff and NOW’S THE TIME WE MEAN IT THIS TIME WE’RE REALLY GONNA …

UNM’s Athletics administrators and coaches are among the highest paid state employees. While [AD Eddie] Nunez has made cuts to programs to save dollars, he hasn’t made any cuts that would personally affect his own personal finances or the personal finances of his staff. The high salaries and many benefits that UNM Athletics administrators and coaches are entitled to by their employment contracts have remained untouched…

…[S]everal salaries [are] above $300,000 per year with a variety of 13 different types of benefits ranging from free-use vehicles to media pay, promotional pay, incentive bonuses, season tickets to games, country club memberships, retention bonuses, free spouse travel to games and in one case a relocation expense totaling nearly $20,000.

[Scathing Online Schoolmarm says: a variety of 13 different types is redundant. Just write 13 different types. You could even write just 13 types. The high number jumps out more if you just go directly for it.]

The AD’s response to this fact is a beaut. In an entire culture of stupidity, it still manages to stand out.

“I am a supporter of incentives because to me, it incentivizes people to do something. If they achieve it, some great things are happening.”

SOS will not attempt to parse this, because she is old and fragile; she will merely remind you that the athletic program at New Mexico is a debacle.

The University of New Mexico – a ridiculous school in one of our most anti-intellectual states –

– has long assumed, correctly, that its ridiculous trustees will listen to the shit the athletics department tells them year after year about taking care of that pesky deficit. Crazed highly-paid coaches, some still working for the school, others suing the school; games in which no one takes any interest; student athletic fees through the roof; academic quality in the toilet; a deer in the headlights president and an empty-threat legislature – you know the drill. Trustees know the drill…

Cuz everything’s gonna be fine as soon as the athletics department not only kills the deficit, but starts making HUGE money. Hold onto your Stetson!

****************

But every now and then there’s a kind of … eruption on the part of one of the trustees. One of them suddenly flies over the cuckoo’s nest and lets out his anger at having been lied to and infantilized for years and years and years. It never seems to happen at our most craven sports factories – Auburn, Nebraska, Louisville – but it can certainly happen elsewhere. Because it’s very rare and beautiful and precious and fleeting, like one brief brilliant flash of a peacock’s tail, we take note of it here at University Diaries.

Rob Doughty, president of the UNM Board of Regents – which is responsible for signing off on years of consistently failing budgets from [the] university’s athletics department – says he feels he’s been lied to and won’t rubber stamp any future athletics budgets nor consider forgiving any of the department’s estimated $7.5 million deficit before seeing significant changes.

… “I want to know right now, in front of everybody, why are we [this much] in the hole when I was promised last year that we had a balanced budget?” Doughty intensely questioned.

… “I’m very upset today. I feel like this Board of Regents and the folks that were there, and especially me, were misled and were told things that weren’t true. And [athletics was] making false promises.

“And, I have to say, that in my time at this university in the last four years, as I sit here today, I think I’m as mad as I’ve ever been…. I think the projection line was done just to balance the budget…. [I] want to know what research was done, what analysis was done to really back the projected figures.”

Hey can’t put one over on Doubty Doughty. That projection line was done just to balance the budget!

I’m sorry, kiddies. Either all of these people are idiots, or this is the way they want things to be. It’s a way of life. You don’t get to break in, a century after the cargo cult has established itself, and say Maybe building a landing strip for magical gifts won’t make the magical gifts appear…

Update, University of New Mexico

It’s a far less interesting place without the legendary Schmidly/Locksley partnership (read these posts if you haven’t just eaten); but, you know…

The shadow of your smile
When you are gone
Will color all my dreams…

The Locksley buyout and various Schmidly initiatives are gifts that keep giving… And of course when it comes to athletics in particular UNM continues really, really sordid, and things get worse and worse. Let’s quote a bit from a recent article:

In one of the poorest states in the nation, can UNM, which has only one of its 21 intercollegiate sports teams (men’s basketball) turning a profit each fiscal year, justify receiving well more than $2 million per year in state subsidies for athletics? Can it justify student fees totaling $4 million, a figure that has more than doubled in the past two years despite the objections of student representatives on campus?

The new Schmidly says uh I dunno… bad situation I guess but can’t do nuthin…

“The debt service continues to be a challenge for us,” [the athletic director] said, referring to paying down the $60 million renovation of the Pit four years ago. “The financial model was predicated on a naming gift…”

The perfectly named Pit is the basketball stadium. The morons who run UNM promised up and down they’d get some bank or pizza parlor to buy naming rights, only it didn’t happen…

I mean, the financial model?? What a great way to put it. This might be more accurate: I and the idiots with whom I play golf figured we might get the funding if we told everyone

UNM students paid $1.9 million in fees for athletics in 2011-12, with a majority earmarked at covering the costs of student admission to sporting events.

Then, despite the objections of undergraduate and graduate student representatives, came significant increases in those fees. In 2012-13 the students paid $3.2 million and that figure was right at $4 million this past year (2013-14).

“Student fees have been a godsend for us the last couple years. But we, historically, have been on the real low end, and now we’re probably right in the middle,” Krebs said. “But I think there’s a limit to what you can put on the backs of the students.”

In 2012-13, six of the 10 other schools in the Mountain West Conference received more money from student fees than did UNM, as did nearby regional schools New Mexico State University and UTEP.

“I don’t see a huge increase in the student participation around fees, but I do think some nominal increases are probably in their future,” Frank said. “How fast and how much is something we’ll talk to the students about.”

The last fees went up without any talking to anyone. Students objected to them and the school said fuck you. Clearly student fees in years to come will be predicated on the same financial model.

What do you want to know about New Mexico State University?

Correct answer: Nothing. You don’t want to know from NMSU because NMSU is NSFW – it’s the sort of obscenity from which decent people avert their eyes. Tens of millions of dollars in athletics debt… no one goes to the football games… no money for academics… and except for this guy and a few others no one gives a shit.

Here’s a sample from a letter the chair of the board of trustees wrote. I won’t quote from it because I’m one of those people who doesn’t enjoy puking her guts out, but you might enjoy it, so go ahead and take a look.

A couple of NMSU students actually thought trying to understand what the trustee wrote and then responding to it might be worthwhile, and UD applauds the effort. You should never give up on human beings, no matter how…

This is truly a clown school. This is truly a school with not a shred of dignity. And now this. One of their players is a violent shit who set off a huge on-court brawl. UD figures he’ll be back attacking opponents after a two-game suspension. After all, it’s New Mexico State.

The University of New Mexico remains one of the nation’s most reliable…

… joke schools.

[University of New Mexico Police Department spokesman Lt. Robert] Haarhues said UNMPD’s biggest problem is intoxicated tailgaters leaving the parking lot without attending [football games].

“More people end up leaving than going inside
to watch the game, and that can be a problem with driving,” he said. “We are trying to get more people to stay, but the fact that people are leaving probably has to do with the lack of success of the team. If they were better, maybe more people would watch.”

UNM: Just a bar.

The Surreal World of the University of New Mexico

With a 3-13 record, the UNM baseball team plays in an “empty” stadium.

Monday the UNM Board of Regents approved the use of a $2 million Severance Tax Bond, which was allocated by the 2010 Legislature for a new baseball complex.

“It’s not money that could be used somewhere else on campus,” Krebs said. “If we didn’t use it specifically for this project it would revert … to the state.”

And while the state is in need of more money, the athletic department says this is money well spent.

An impoverished university, its academics gutted, builds a new baseball stadium for a team without spectators.

“New Mexico State University briefly had a contract with Security Concepts, but severed that agreement just before the end of 2010.”

Okay… But this makes it look as though New Mexico State still uses Security Concepts to protect its campus.

Either way, you gotta wonder why they hired Security Concepts. The owner was “arrested in 1999 on racketeering and other charges in an investigation of crime in public housing that turned up allegations of illegality at [a] downtown Las Cruces bar.” Charges were dropped because they couldn’t find enough witnesses.

More recently (last month), the same owner was “charged with driving drunk with two loaded firearms in his vehicle.”

… [Michael] Gonzales refused to provide a breath sample … During a search of the Jeep, the deputies found an unloaded Phoenix Arms long rifle under the passenger seat, a loaded Charter Arms .38 Special and a Kel-Tec 9 mm Luger, which was not only loaded but had a round in the chamber …

A University of New Mexico English Professor…

…has been murdered.

The campus paper doesn’t name him, but his students know who he was, and they talk about him to the reporter. He was apparently killed, along with his girlfriend, by his girlfriend’s ex-lover.

… Student Felicia Lopez, in the professor’s Chicano Studies class, said her teacher did not show up for his 10 a.m. Monday class.

“He would tell us before if he was going to miss class,” she said. “He was always excited and passionate to show up to teach.”

… Student Oscar Ortega said the professor canceled class three times in the past two weeks because he had to testify in court as a witness to a domestic dispute case.

“He talked about how concerned he was about the domestic dispute case,” he said. “He was constantly talking about it.”

Students in the professor’s class plan to honor him by wearing black wristbands on their right arms, Ortega said…

University of New Mexico: Craphouse

A jock-sniffing, nepotistic president; sociopaths on the sports teams; Mistress Jade, who punishes naughty grad students with whips, on the creative writing staff… It’s all gotten too much for UNM, which has just hired an expensive ‘reputation management’ consultant to make the corrupt twisted people who make UNM what it is look uncorrupt and untwisted.

UD awaits the ministrations of the public relations firm upon her. She looks forward to her sense of UNM as a crony-ridden craphouse being transformed by clever pr into a sense of UNM as something that smells really good.

Locksley v. Chavez at the University of New Mexico

From a comment on a UNM Daily Lobo story about a sadomasochistic sex worker in the creative writing department:

I propose a no-holds-barred celebrity duel between Mike “Suckerpunch” Locksley and Lisa “Mistress Jade” Chavez to be held in Smith Plaza next Friday at high noon – 15 rounds or until one of our UNM celebrities can fight no longer – tickets will be sold to the public and all proceeds will go to settle lawsuits against UNM resulting from the earlier escapades of “Suckerpunch” and “Mistress Jade” – Come one, come all – see the show of a lifetime – and shake hands with the man who brought you the whole thing, Ringmaster David Schmidly!!!

Update on The University of New Mexico Under Dave Schmidly

A letter to the campus paper, the Daily Lobo, from an emeritus professor brings us up to date on this perennial class act.

The TV ads featuring Lobo Louie and his Lobo floozy accurately convey the tackiness of the partnership between the University of New Mexico Athletics Department and the Route 66 Casino Hotel. How did an institution of higher learning end up with the gaming industry as a roommate?

Sadly, these organizations have become soul mates. Intercollegiate athletics in America today has a bad case of gambling addiction. I do not refer to fans wagering on games. I refer to institutions that throw good money after bad in hopes of hitting that elusive jackpot — a championship.

Few, if any, NCAA Division I athletics programs cover their costs, especially if indirect subsidies for physical plant and utilities are factored in. Yet programs and their boosters insist on spending more and more for coaches’ compensation, sumptuous facilities and player recruitment. They say they want to “reach the next level.” Their behavior resembles that of a problem gambler who, in placing ever-higher stakes to recoup his losses, succeeds only in reaching the next level of penury.

Just as the family of a problem gambler suffers from the diversion of limited resources away from essential needs, so the academic communities of Division I universities suffer from the diversion of limited resources away from their basic educational mission.

Teaching, learning and research are starved as money is lavished on games.

Viewed from this perspective, Louie and the floozy are perfect for each other…

He sounds embarrassed, doesn’t he? But when it comes to tacky and the University of New Mexico under President David Schmidly, there’s so much more. Here’s a start.

Here at University Diaries, we don’t cover diploma mill grads unless these people are outstanding, extensive, users of diploma mills…

… and unless these same people have achieved high-level jobs in education and related fields.

Cindy Holguin, CEO of a New Mexico charter school, seems more than amply to fit the bill:

Holguin is … fighting back against allegations regarding her qualifications to lead the school as CEO.

[D]egrees held by Holguin from Belford University, … a proven diploma scam, [are] invalid and did not meet standards set by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Holguin told the Current-Argus the only degree she used in applying for her position was an associate’s degree obtained from the Carlsbad campus of New Mexico State University in 1995.

The university was unable to find a record of that degree when requested by the Current-Argus.

In addition, Holguin said she has an MBA from New York State University Online from 2007.

Holguin said she would not cite her degrees from Belford University, saying those were not degrees she was “proud of.”

The I didn’t cite them or We didn’t use them in assessing her qualifications for the job are classic diploma mill-revelation moves… Yes, yes, she got two PhDs from East Ipswich Institute of Holistic Theology… But those are totally irrelevant to her work as superintendent of schools, so they don’t count… I got those degrees when I was a single mother subsisting on dog food and I was desperate…

But Holguin, if these reports are accurate, goes way beyond that. According to my count, she’s got at least four degrees, and it’s possible that none of them exists. I’ve never heard of New York State University Online. New Mexico State University has never heard of Cindy Holguin. And for all we know, there are several other degrees she’s not proud of and doesn’t list for certain jobs…

This is one of the most impressive diploma mill hauls UD has seen, and she’s seen a lot. She has speculated on this blog before about how this happens – how you accumulate not one or two but four or five bogus degrees. Her theory is that once you enter the twilight zone, the outer limits, of university degrees, you are in danger of being lured even deeper into the universe. Why stop at Calaspia when you can take your spaceship to Deltora and then Eternia?

“Plagiarism within a university and a higher education system reflect[s] poorly on Nevada, which is desperately trying to improve its reputation on many fronts, including education.”

Of course this local columnist is right that the state of Nevada has a jaw-droppingly bad ed rep; but she errs in assuming even a non-desperate effort to change this.

UD has for years followed the states of New Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, and Nevada (UD‘s Big Four) as they run their primary, secondary, and post-secondary schools into the ground.

Not one of these states seems to know how to run schools, much less care about running them.

Nevada in particular – entertainment capital of the world – is all about building The World’s Largest 800 Million Dollar University Football Stadium and stuff like that. It’s clear the state doesn’t even know what universities are. Or – again – care. The center of its world is Las Vegas.

Las Vegas. Nevada’s tax base relies on drawing stupid people to the state, and it’s done a bang-up job. State leaders understand there’s, uh, negative utility in drawing smart people.

So who can be surprised that no one there knows what plagiarism is, much less knows that you shouldn’t do it? The same local columnist expresses amazement that the University of Nevada Las Vegas for years housed a high-profile professor who has been loudly called out as a plagiarist since “his 1990 doctoral dissertation at [the] University of Toronto.” She seems surprised that UNLV seemed disinclined to do anything about this guy until the Chronicle of Higher Ed did a big story about him. A commenter at Retraction Watch notes:

UNLV management were probably too busy hushing up scandals with the basketball team to worry about something as trivial as plagiarism on a massive scale…

The columnist seems just as surprised that the Nevada System of Higher Education “copied large sections of [a Brookings Institution] draft report and submitted it to legislators as NSHE’s own proposal.” Why not?

If you ever doubted the comprehensive, whoroscope (as Beckett would call it), nature of big-time university football…

… note that when the New York Times went in search of a sage, gravitas-rich voice on the absolutely shocking academic fraud at Notre Dame, they could only find Dave Schmidly.

Schmidly! Dave! Dave – comic-book ex-president of the unbelievably corrupt University of New Mexico; a man who tried hiring his son for a high-level university position [scroll down for some Schmidly posts]; a man drummed out of office by faculty… Yes, get Schmidly on the the phone! He’ll have something sage to say!

And he does. He obligingly knits his brow for the New York Times about how, you know, competition to recruit the best football players “increases the likelihood of people cutting corners.”

Dave would know about that! Why interview lots of people for a $90,000 a year UNM job when your kid’s sitting right here?

… Eh. It’s not as though the NYT could find a clean president of a big-time sports university to interview. It’s more a kind of how far down the list do we want to go thing… Donna Shalala? Yikes. No. Hey, there’s Tressel! He even used to be a coach! … Oh yeah. Scratch that…. Next…?

“[T]he Stanford University School of Medicine had no comment.”

And it never has had any comment since the curious 2008 death of one of its faculty in a private plane crash. People who knew John Borchers at Stanford added their praise to this glowing obituary; and only if you bother scrolling down to the very last comment on the story do you discover (details here) that Stanford had hired a man with ten years of substance abuse behind him, and that Borchers took his plane up with the following substances in his body:

In addition to cocaine and Prozac, toxicology tests by the FAA turned up opiates, mood stabilizers and anti-psychotic drugs…

A raging addict was treating addicts at Stanford University, and Stanford never got anywhere near acknowledging that, much less explaining why it thought it was safe to have this man in patient care.

… Borchers was … under investigation by the Medical Board of California and in danger of losing his medical license. According to the NTSB, an April 22, 2008, accusation by the [Medical Board of California] “documented a history of substance dependence and abuse for more than 10 years preceding the accident, involving the misuse of at least four different substances (including alcohol) and treatment through at least six different programs for substance-related disorders during that period.”

A raging addict took a plane up at night, and if he hadn’t managed to crash it into a mountain, he might well have crashed in nearby Incline Village, killing people.

*******************

So, the problem with failing to acknowledge mistakes like this is that they keep getting made. Look, for a recent case, at how many incidents it took before the University of New Mexico dismissed its chief lobbyist.

Chief lobbyist. The person who represented the university to the state government. A huge alcoholic, he’d racked up his third DWI (plus a non-DWI alcohol-related arrest) before the university finally pulled itself together and fired him.

This man is well-connected (‘son of longtime state Rep. Henry “Kiki” Saavedra’) and in a vastly corrupt, crony-ridden state like New Mexico I suppose that takes you some distance. But even in that context… Jeez.

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