New Mexico disputes allegations

Updated: August 17, 2009, 8:21 PM ET
Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- An Albuquerque lawyer claims a New Mexico football administrative assistant was improperly fired after coach Mike Locksley determined she wasn't "a younger gal" who would entice recruits.

However, athletic director Paul Krebs disputed the allegations by attorney Whitney Warner concerning her client, Sylvia Lopez.

"We're not going to go point-by-point, but we've maintained all along that neither Coach Locksley nor the athletic department has done anything wrong. We vigorously deny the allegations," Krebs said Monday.

Warner told the Albuquerque Journal that Locksley told the 54-year-old Lopez she was too old to be attractive to recruits.

"[Locksley] made a number of statements shortly after he was hired and throughout the time that Ms. Lopez was still there that he needed to get younger gals in there younger-looking, young, fresh gals in there because they're good recruiting tools," Warner told the newspaper.

Warner didn't return several messages left by The Associated Press seeking clarification and additional comment.

A university spokesman said Locksley, New Mexico's first-year coach who was hired in December, wouldn't address the matter.

Lopez filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against the 39-year-old Locksley in April, accusing the coach of sexual harassment, age discrimination and retaliation.

Krebs said the sides had agreed to mediation but declined to discuss details. He defended Locksley, saying: "If you look at Coach Locksley at his other stops, he has always conducted himself with integrity."

Warner said Lopez worked at the university more than 25 years and maintained that Locksley fired her. Krebs disputed that, saying Lopez retired.

Lopez is seeking financial compensation as part of the claim, the Journal reported.

Locksley, offensive coordinator at Illinois for the past four seasons, took over at New Mexico after Rocky Long stepped down Nov. 17. Locksley initially retained Long's administrative staff.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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