LOBO FINAL 3?: Richard Pitino, Tim Miles and Kyle Keller — and It’s Wild

Former CSU and Nebraska coach Tim Miles is one of three candidates being interviewed for the Lobo men’s basketball coaching vacancy.
By Mark Smith
Enchantment Sports
Editor in Chief

The scramble is on, and looking much like 2017.

Multiple sources told Enchantment Sports that three candidates are being interviewed this weekend for the University of New Mexico men’s basketball coaching vacancy, and they are the only top-tier candidates at this time: Richard Pitino, Tim Miles and Kyle Keller.

But much still needs to shake out, and what happens with Pitino in his current position as head coach at Minnesota will likely affect how everything comes out at UNM.

And other names could be added to the mix.

Sources said that Pitino, son of the legendary Rick Pitino, is on the hottest of hot seats in Minnesota and will likely be fired or forced to resign this weekend.

Richard Pitino. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The situation is similar to what Paul Weir went through when he was ousted by UNM two weeks ago as Lobo head coach. The Golden Gophers would reportedly owe Pitino a $1.75 million buyout if they fire him.

A resignation could allow Pitino to get a lump sum severance check and take a lower paying job at UNM.

Sources said Pitino is UNM athletic director Eddie Nuñez’s top choice.

Miles, who led both Colorado State and Nebraska to the NCAA Tournament after rebuilding both programs, has been out of coaching since being fired by the Cornhuskers two years ago.

Sources said that he has been very interested in the Lobo job, but could also be looking into taking over for Pitino at Minnesota if the latter is fired and doesn’t come to New Mexico.

Miles is expected to be interviewed today or Sunday by UNM.

Keller, one of the hottest coaches from a smaller school, is 104-46 in five seasons at Stephen F. Austin and 73-15 in the Southland Conference. Sources said he will also be interviewed by the Lobos, or already has been.

Keller is expected to be in line for a number of jobs this year.

Kyle Keller

In 2017, Albuquerque native James Borrego was offered the then-vacant Lobo coaching job after Craig Neal was fired. Borrego accepted, and the news got out.

But Borrego, who as an assistant coach in the NBA at the time and is now head coach of the Charlotte Hornets, and UNM couldn’t agree on when he would come to Albuquerque to run the program or on a salary. Borrego was still in the thick of the NBA season at the time.

The deal was never consummated and then-UNM athletic director Paul Krebs eventually hired Paul Weir away rom New Mexico State.

Sound familiar? Stay tuned.

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.

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