Craig Neal Fired As New Mexico Head Coach

    New Mexico dismissed Craig Neal late on Friday. The Lobos will now look for a new head men's basketball coach as they seek to get back to the NCAA Tournament.

    April 1, 2017

    New Mexico dismissed Craig Neal late on Friday. The Lobos will now look for a new head men’s basketball coach as they seek to get back to the NCAA Tournament.


    Craig Neal is out as head men’s basketball coach at New Mexico.

    The school announced the decision late on Friday, and the decision comes just three weeks after AD Paul Krebs announced that Neal would be returning for the 2017-18 season. The Lobos finished 17-14 this season, failing to earn an NCAA Tournament bid for the third straight year.

    “The University of New Mexico is grateful for the service and dedication that Coach Neal gave to Lobo basketball,” Krebs said in a statement. “He’s a good man and a winning coach, but the time has come to move Lobo Basketball in a new direction. We will begin a search for a new coach immediately and look forward to building on the winning tradition of Lobo Basketball.”

    Neal was hired to replace Steve Alford in 2013 when Alford left to take over at UCLA. He led New Mexico to a 27-7 record, a Mountain West title and an NCAA Tournament berth in his first season, earning a contract extension through 2019-20. But the Lobos have a combined 49-45 record over the past three seasons, prompting Krebs to give Neal the hook.

    It has been a tough situation lately in Albuquerque, as four Lobo players with eligibility remaining announced they were transferring and two more thinking about doing the same. Perhaps a new head coach will be enough to change the minds of the players looking to bolt.

    Neal’s contract included a $1 million buyout and a requirement to pay him for the duration of the deal in the form of the contract year’s base salary of $300,000 if the school fired him. The contract year starts on April 1, so the timing of the move makes financial sense.

    Krebs, who is in Glendale this week for the Final Four as a member of the NCAA Selection Committee, will conduct a national search for Neal’s replacement.

    MORE: How Mark Few Sold Gonzaga’s ‘Culture of Player Development’

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