Highlands to hold 'open forums' for football coach candidates

May 21—In a rare occurrence, the public will get a chance to take part in a coaching search.

New Mexico Highlands University announced it will interview three finalists for the vacant head football coach position with a series of public forums/Zoom meetings, starting Wednesday.

The school will conduct its first interview, with West Texas A&M defensive backs/special teams coach Justin Richter, at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday in the SUB 320 Governance Room on the NMHU campus. The public can also take part in the forum online at

Meetings also will be conducted Thursday and Friday at the same time and via the same link. Sterling (Kans.) College head coach Darren Jackson will be interviewed Thursday, and New Mexico Military Institute head coach Kurt Taufa'Asau is set to meet the public Friday.

The position opened earlier this month when the university fired Ron Hudson after two seasons and a 5-16 record.

"I'm excited for the future of the Highlands football program, and feel confident in the three finalists who are coming to campus," said Shanna Halalilo, NMHU's co-athletic director.

Richter coached at West Texas A&M in 2023 and was defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach for six years at Missouri Western State University, in St. Joseph.

Jackson spent the past two seasons at Sterling, compiling a 4-17 record during that stretch at the NAIA school. Jackson has experience in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, having been the defensive backs coach at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction in 2020.

Taufa'asau has compiled a 27-10 record in three seasons at NMMI and led the Broncos to the NJCAA Division I National Championship in 2021.