Administrators to investigate fight

Updated: September 30, 2009, 3:06 PM ET
Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- New Mexico administrators have opened an investigation into a fight in which coach Mike Locksley struck an assistant, and the first-year coach could face suspension or firing.

The probe will be directed by the university's Human Resources Division.

"It has been given a high priority," university spokeswoman Susan McKinsey said Wednesday.

The investigation comes after athletic director Paul Krebs announced Monday that Locksley had been issued verbal and written reprimands for his role in a Sept. 20 dispute.

Receivers coach J.B. Gerald told police Locksley struck him during a staff meeting at the football office, splitting his lip.

At his weekly news conference Tuesday, Locksley said he accepted responsibility for his actions and should have handled the situation better. He said he apologized to Gerald, the coaches and the team.

"The best way to handle it is admitting it, asking for forgiveness, which I have, and then try to move forward and find a way to win," Locksley said.

Under the university's policies, employees face progressive discipline for violent behavior and some violations "may be of such serious nature that immediate suspension or discharge may be appropriate."

McKinsey said administrators hope to complete their work as soon as possible but no deadline was issued.

"The scope of the investigation is being planned," she said. "We will give it due diligence. We will make sure it is as complete as possible."

Locksley, hired in December after four seasons as offensive coordinator at Illinois, will continue coaching the Lobos (0-4) during the probe. New Mexico plays Saturday at Texas Tech.

At a news conference Monday, Krebs told reporters he considered the matter closed. However, McKinsey said Krebs requested the investigation on Tuesday, seeking additional guidance on university policies.

She said one goal of the probe will be to clarify two campus policy listings.

One entry, addressing campus violence, says any act of violence won't be tolerated. A second, in a section titled "Performance Management," says assault or battery on another person is grounds for suspension and even termination.

An athletic department spokesman said Krebs wasn't available for additional comment Wednesday.

Locksley, who earns $750,000 annually, has had a turbulent start at New Mexico.

He has denied wrongdoing in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint alleging sexual harassment, age discrimination and retaliation.

A former football administrative assistant filed the complaint last spring, claiming she was improperly fired because Locksley wanted "a younger gal" who would entice recruits.

His team has struggled, too, losing to rival New Mexico State last weekend for the first time since 2002. The Lobos have lost their four games by an average of 24 points and rank near the bottom in several NCAA statistics.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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