New Mexico announced on Friday that athletic director Paul Krebs will retire on June 30, ending his 11-year run as head of Lobos athletics. The reason for his sudden departure is not explicitly stated in the school’s official announcement—the press release is merely an extensive list of accomplishments New Mexico athletes, not Krebs, achieved, along with some extremely generous quotes from Lobos officials. That being said, it likely has something to do with the fact that Krebs spent $64,949 in taxpayer money on a 2015 golf trip to Scotland, and then lied about it until KRQE shoved the receipts in his face.
The announcement comes two days after state auditor Tim Keller informed interim New Mexico president Chaouki Abdallah that the school’s athletic department will be the focus of a special audit after the Office of the State Auditor “received information raising concerns related to athletic fundraising activities and expenses of the University of New Mexico.”
The “information” referenced by Keller came in the form of a public records report published by KRQE on May 22. The news station found that Krebs used university funds to cover expenses for himself, two other Lobos employees, and a trio of private-sector businessmen while they attended an all-expense paid trip to Scotland, complete with reservations at high-end hotels and various top-flight golf courses. Krebs had the trip filed as a men’s basketball tournament so as to avoid such prodding by government officials, and then purposefully withheld the fact that he used school funds for non-New Mexico employees (all three of whom were potential donors) from Abdallah, not that it mattered.
Despite the rash of negative publicity and fact that Krebs, an employee being paid $300,000 in base salary, seems to have defrauded the university for over $64,000, Abdallah has stuck by his AD’s side throughout the revelations. When interviewed by KRQE about Krebs’s financial decisions, Abdallah only went as far to say that he was “not happy” but that “even honorable men sometimes make a mistake.”
In the the gushing press release—one that includes the sentence, “In terms of on the field success, there has never been a better run than the past 11 years in the history of the university”—Abdallah continued his defense of Krebs, calling his run as AD “the most productive and successful in school history.” He also mentioned that Krebs has tried to retire before (maybe when he was first caught by KQRE), implying that this is all just happenstance and not the direct result of a lying AD, solid local reporting, and a hasty attempt to save face by the university:
“I thank Paul Krebs for his outstanding leadership of UNM athletics,” Interim University of New Mexico President Dr. Chaouki Abdallah said. “His tenure will go down as the most productive and successful in school history. Paul has tried to retire several times over the last year, and now I finally have reluctantly agreed to accept his retirement. Paul and Marjori have been very active in serving the University community, our city and our state. I wish Paul the best in his retirement.”
As detailed by watchdog blog NMFishbowl, Krebs’s tenure has also included: overpaying head baseball coach Ray Birmingham, overpaying former basketball head coach Craig Neal by $150,000 (then giving him a $200,000 raise shortly after, and eventually firing him this past April, triggering a $1 million buyout); an incredibly sticky situation in which the school actually launched an internal audit of an employee potentially guilty of fraud (not unlike Krebs), and a slew of bad PR surrounding athlete exit interviews that detail fat-shaming by coaches, racist remarks by professors, and male favoritism when it comes to workout facility usage.
Like we said before: Albuquerque seems to be littered with bodies, and Krebs knows the whereabouts of all of them.