A group of state representatives are trying to figure out what can be done to save the four cut sports programs by the University of New Mexico.
The Regents cut both men’s and women’s ski teams, beach volleyball and men’s soccer last week.
It’s supposed to save the school about $1.1 million.
Representatives Patricia Lundstrom and Antonio Maestas held a news conference Monday to talk about the decision.
“I think the Regents felt like they had no choice… Well, now we’re giving them a choice and we are asking the UNM Regents to reconsider its decision and reinstate these programs,” said Rep. Maestas.
Rep. Lundstrom says she’s terribly disappointed and that the decision doesn’t seem well-thought-out.
“I want to see what criteria was used to determine those sports that were selected to be cut,” she said.
All five legislators in attendance Monday expressed disappointment and said there are other options to pay the department’s debt.
“Across this nation, sports is part of us, and part of our community and part of who we are,” said Sheryl Williams Stapleton.
Lundstrom mentioned the legislature’s $6.9 million general fund as a possible source of help.
“You know we do pull the purse strings at the end of the day. At the end of the day, the buck stops at the New Mexico Legislature,” said Rep. Lundstrom.
She went on to say all the school had to do was ask for help, but said that never happened.
“I didn’t have anybody ask me for any new money, there was never a supplemental request put forth for athletics,” she said.
David Harris, COO and CFO of UNM responded with the following statement:
For the past several years, since the significant differential in recurring appropriations between UNM and NMSU was instituted, UNM has requested HAFC add-ons and Senate Finance Committee amendments to House Bill 2 in order to equalize the state appropriate for Division 1 schools. We anticipate making this request once again in 2019.
Still, the reps don’t put all the blame on UNM.
“If you’re mad at this decision, take your family to a football game, buy a handful of soccer tickets for you and your friends,” said Rep. Maestas.
Men’s soccer coach Jeremy Fishbein was in attendance and is grateful the state reps want to work with UNM to find a solution.
“I think it’s’ become apparent to everyone that that this had to happen,” said Jeremy Fishbein.
The reps said they’re confident they will find a better answer.
“There will be Division 1 men’s soccer in 2019,” said Rep. Maestas.
Now, as the head UNM ski coach has already accepted a new position in Utah, Fishbein says he’s here to stay.
He could not tell KRQE News 13 is any of his players have already jumped ship to play at other schools.