New Mexico coach Craig Neal is already dealing with his first big public relations problem less than a month into his tenure and it has nothing to do with anything his players or assistant coaches have done.
Neal's wife, Janet, was accused of battery on an assistant principal at her son's Albuquerque high school in February. Neal's son, Cullen, was a star player at Eldorado High School and recently signed to play for his father after being allowed out of a previous commitment to attend Saint Mary's.
Eldorado assistant principal Susan Stanojevic filed a complaint with Albuquerque Police against Janet Neal after a Feb. 21 game stating that Neal “lunged at me and aggressively grabbed my left arm, yanking me to face her,” the Associated Press reported citing the police report.
“At the same time, she put her face close to mine and in an angry, loud voice, stated, ‘the next time you want to accuse me of using profanity at a basketball game, you need to talk to me first.’ ”
The incident was spawned by an earlier issue in which Stanojevic claimed she overheard Neal making abusive remarks about referees after a game involving her son.
Police referred the case to the Bernalillo County district attorney's office where it is being reviewed. The AP story says Janet Neal could be charged with battery on a school official, a fourth-degree felony.
Janet Neal has denied the allegations through her attorney and Craig Neal issued a statement Friday saying the Neal's have put the issue behind them, which seems to be premature.
“At a high school basketball game last season, my wife Janet was involved in a discussion with the assistant principal,” Neal said in the statement. “We went through the proper channels within the school system to resolve the issue and put the issue to rest.”
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- Crime & Justice
- Craig Neal