New Mexico has fired head coach Craig Neal after four seasons leading the Lobos program. Neal was a former assistant under Steve Alford at UNM and was elevated to head coach when Alford left for UCLA in 2013. During his tenure, the Lobos were 76-52 overall but just 49-45 (27-27 MWC) over the last three years.
Athletic director Paul Krebs released a statement Friday night announcing that Neal would not return. “[Neal] is a good man and a winning coach,” Krebs said, “but the time has come to move Lobo Basketball in a new direction.”
In his first year as head coach, Neal led the Lobos to the NCAA Tournament with a 27-7 record and earned a contract extension. With that came a $1 million buyout that the school will now be on the hook for.
The search for Neal’s replacement will begin immediately. Potential replacements include Reggie Theus, the former NMSU coach now at Cal State Northridge and Joe Dooley, a former UNM assistant who took Florida Gulf Coast to this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Another possibility is current Nebraska head coach Tim Miles, who heads into next season on a seat so hot it might actually be on fire. He has familiarity and past success in the Mountain West and may very well be looking for a landing spot to leave Lincoln on his own terms.
credit AP Photo/Juan Antonio Labreche for the image