November 04, 2009
Regular readers will recall that first-year New Mexico coach Mike Locksley (right) was suspended for one game last month after allegedly choking and punching his wide receivers coach, J.B. Gerald, earlier this season. Gerald has subsequently left the team, and Locksley returned to the sideline last week for the Lobos' upset bid at San Diego State, a 23-20 loss that dropped UNM to 0-8 on the season. This should be the week for the Lobos to return to normal and hunker down in search for their first win against the meat of the Mountain West schedule over the next month.
But every time they think they're out, the Locksley-Gerald altercation keeps pulling them back in:
University of New Mexico officials alleged Wednesday that assistant coach J.B. Gerald demanded $500,000 from the university in exchange for remaining silent about the Mike Locksley altercation. Evidence in the case was destroyed, UNM officials told the (Albuquerque) Journal.
A timeline distributed by the university states that on Oct. 1, "university receives letter from J.B. Gerald's attorney offering continued media silence in exchange for a $500,000 settlement figure."
Why Gerald would try to extort six times his salary in hush money a full three days after his statements in a police report hit the headlines is a mystery. The allegedly destroyed evidence in the case includes "original notes" of interviews with witnesses that the school claims were carelessly tossed by an athletic department employee, according to the Journal (which really, really wanted to see those notes).
Gerald still hasn't spoken to the media about the incident -- for his part, Locksley admits a physical but denies punching or choking his much smaller assistant -- but presumably has not seen any money from it, either. Revealing his cash grab has the whiff of the university attempting to undercut a pending lawsuit, which remains speculative. With conference heavies Utah, BYU and TCU making up three of the Lobos' last four games, there's a good chance this won't be resolved before Locksley notches his first win, if he sticks around that long.
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Hat tip: Sports by Brooks