By Mark Smith
Editor in Chief
Multiple sources told Enchantment Sports that Paul Weir is out as University of New Mexico men’s basketball coach after this season.
An announcement could come as soon as tonight or by Monday.
Sources said UNM has been negotiating with Weir’s agent and reached a tentative settlement on Friday, but did not know if anything had been signed.
The talks began before the Lobos’ split of a two-game series at Air Force (5-17, 3-15 in MW) earlier this week.
UNM athletic director Eddie Nuñez didn’t return a message from Enchantment Sports asking about Lobo basketball on Thursday or Friday. Weir didn’t return a similar message on Friday.
New Mexico is 6-14 in Weir’s fourth season, and in last place in the Mountain West at 2-14.
It concludes its regular season with a make-up game at Colorado State on Wednesday before the Mountain West tournament the following week in Las Vegas.
Weir is 57-58 overall at UNM and 27-39 in league play.
Weir was 28-6 at New Mexico State in his only other year as a head coach, and led the Aggies to the NCAA Tournament.
He and the Lobos have had to endure a season like no other in school history — or in the history of any school, for that matter.
Because of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s controversial in-state restrictions, the Lobos have not been allowed to play a game in the Pit all season and were not even allowed to practice in New Mexico until earlier this month. The made their home base Lubbock, Texas, where they practiced, played “home games” and attended UNM classes online.
During a Feb. 3, Zoom teleconference, Weir talked about the difficulties the team has faced this season, and the toll the restrictions have taken on the players mentally.
During the teleconference, Enchantment Sports asked Weir if he was confident of returning next season as Lobo coach.
“That’s not my decision,” he said.
The teleconference was after the Lobos announced they were cancelling a two-game series with San Diego State (18-4, 12-3), despite neither team having any issues with COVID-19.
Earlier this week, the MW announced it has made UNM forfeit the two games with SDSU for seeding purposes in the conference tournament, which theoretically makes the Lobos 2-16 in the league. But the NCAA announced it does not officially count the forfeits as losses.
The Lobos’ following two-game series with Colorado State (14-4, 11-3) the second week of February was postponed because of COVID-19 issues, leading to the make-up game next week.
UNM is expected to play in the league tournament, although no official announcement has been made.
Earlier this month, Nuñez told the Albuquerque Journal “My intention, as always, is to let a season go (until its completion), evaluate it and then be able to sit down with the coaches and go through all aspects of the entire season – where our program currently is, where a program needs to be and what we need to do to get it to where we want it to be.”
Weir has two years remaining on his contract, and a buyout would cost UNM about $700,000.
Finances will obviously play a role in the head coaching search for UNM’s cash-strapped athletic program. Nuñez reportedly said the athletic department could suffer more than a $10 million shortfall this fiscal year.
Sources told Enchantment Sports that Nuñez wants to hire a proven head coach, and numerous names have been rumored as possible replacements for Weir, including a handful who are, or soon could be, available — and with solid resumes.
FRANK MARTIN: The South Carolina head coach is on the hot seat in his ninth season with the Gamecocks with an overall record of 152-130 and a 69-87 record in the SEC.
But Martin is a proven winner, having led South Carolina to the Final Four in 2017, and was 117-54 in five seasons at Kansas State with four NCAA Tournament appearances.
Like Nuñez, Martin is a South Florida native. The two are said to be longtime friends.
The price tag for Martin, however, might be too high for UNM and the coach likely will have plenty of offers if he is ousted from South Carolina.
GREGG MARSHALL: He has been in the running at least twice before, and is available — but the price tag would likely be high.
Marshall is the winningest head coach in Wichita State and Winthrop history with a combined 525-204 record, 14 NCAA Tournament appearances and a Final Four (2013 with Wichita State).
In 2014, the Shockers lost in the third round of the NCAA Tournament when they were 35-0.
But Marshall resigned on November 17, after an internal investigation following multiple former players detailing physical, verbal, and racial abuse against him.
He will reportedly be paid a settlement of $7.75 million over six years.
TIM MILES: He has a 399-334 record in18 seasons as head coach at North Dakota State, Colorado State and Nebraska.
Miles led CSU to the NCAA Tournament in 2011-2012, his final of five seasons there, and Nebraska to the Dance in his second of seven seasons there.
He was fired in 2019, despite leading the Huskers to a combined 41-28 record in his final two seasons – both ending in the NIT. His 116 wins there were third most in school history.
Two of Miles’ former assistants at Colorado State are currently highly successful coaches in the Mountain West – Utah State’s Craig Smith and CSU’s Niko Medved.
And Miles also has a big-time tie with the Lobo program. He is good friends with UNM deputy athletic director David Williams, a former assistant coach at North Dakota State.
Williams came to UNM in 2018 from South Dakota State, where he was athletic director and hired Craig Smith, who led the program to great success.
JIM BOYLEN: Another guy with head MW experience, Boylen coached the Utah Utes for four seasons from 2007-2011 and took them to the NCAA Tournament in 2009.
He also has a boatload of NBA coaching experience, including two years as head coach of the Chicago Bulls. But he was fired in 2020 after going 39-84 in those two seasons.
Boylen was an assistant with the Indiana Pacers from 2011-13 — where he coached former Lobo star Danny Granger — then with the San Antonio Spurs from 2013-15.
The Spurs won the NBA title staff in 2014, the third time Boylen was an assistant for an NBA championship team.
He became the Bulls associate head coach in 2015 and the head coach for the 2018-19 season.
Boylen had two stints as an assistant at Michigan State — one under Jud Heathcote and the other under Tom Izzo — sandwiched around 13 years as an NBA assistant with Houston, Golden State and Milwaukee before getting the head gig with the Utes.
MIKE MILLER: The former Florida sensation was the fifth overall pick (Orlando) in the 2000 NBA draft and was rookie of the year. He played for seven teams during an 18-year NBA career.
Penny Hardaway hired Miller as a college assistant at Memphis in 2018, where Miller spent two seasons and became one of the nation’s top recruiters.
He resigned in June of 2020 and a month later became boys basketball coach at Houston High in Germantown, Tenn., where his two sons played.
Miller’s brother is former Lobo assistant Ryan Miller and Mike played at Florida under Billy Donovan and when Eddie Nuñez was a graduate assistant.
DAMON STOUDAMIRE: The former University of Arizona and NBA star is in his fifth season as head coach of Pacific. He is 70-75 at the school and 8-7 this season, but was 23-10 last season.
He was an assistant at Rice, Memphis and Arizona from 2008-2016 before being hired as head coach at Pacific.
Stoudamire was the seventh overall pick by Toronto in the 1995 NBA draft and named rookie of the year.
Other names: Former Lobo assistant Joe Dooley, who is in his second stint as head coach at East Carolina and was also head coach at Florida Gulf Coast. He has a 200-159 record in 12 seasons and twice led FGC to the NCAA Tournament.
Ex-Lobo and NBA star Michael Cooper, a former NBA assistant and interim head coach (Denver), a WNBA head coach (Los Angeles, Atlanta) and head coach for the Southern Cal women’s team, former New Mexico State assistant coach Tony Stubblefield, former Lobo Cody Toppert are also expected to inquire about the job.
Mark Smith has worked in New Mexico sports media for more than four decades, and is one of the most decorated sports journalists in state history. Smith has won more than 30 combined awards in print, television and radio and has been honored nationally for investigative reporting. He is the editor in chief of Enchantment Sports. Contact him at mark.enchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com.