August 18, 2009
Regulars readers may remember the unusual case of new New Mexico boss Mike Locksley, who, less than six months into the job and still months from his first game as a head coach, was slapped with a lawsuit by a 54-year-old former employee accusing him of the rare combination of age discrimination and sexual harassment. The case was vague then, but some of the details emerged Monday, and of course -- recruiting is prominently involved:
Attorney Whitney Warner said Locksley fired her client, former Lobo football administrative assistant Sylvia Lopez, because she was not a "young gal" who could entice recruits.
"The real focus of what seems to have happened here is that coach Locksley, because of how he's done things at other places he's worked, is used to having the staff in the football department be young, attractive women because they're enticing for recruits," Warner said. "They have a lot of interaction with recruits, and (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. ..."
Well, Gary Barnett, he is not, though shame on Locksley if he said anything like what he's alleged to have said. (The university says he did nothing wrong and will be vindicated.) Either way, it's another helpful lesson in workplace decorum: Common P.C. sense is a job requirement, and it always pays to develop as many speed bumps as possible between the brain and the mouth. (Or keyboard.)
Of course, Locksley is no spring chicken around the office, especially when it comes to solicitating the talents of teenagers: As an assistant, he helped build teams that would win championships at Maryland and Florida and was Ron Zook's ace-in-the-hole at Illinois, especially in Locksley's hometown, Washington, D.C., from whence he plucked Vontae Davis and Arrelious Benn. He's knows knows the recruiting, and as a fairly young guy himself (he's 39), he knows what young guys are most interested in. He knows success can hinge on winning the details, on every little edge.
And in this case, if New Mexico has so little else to offer that the attractiveness of the office staff might actually matter to potential players -- if the cheerleaders, hostesses, hospitality quads, sororities, female athletes hanging around the complex, girls behind the circulation desk at the library and waitresses at the IHOP across the street from campus are falling that far short -- then surely he knows the recruiting crisis is at DEFCON levels, far beyond the powers of mortal cheesecake. Christina Hendricks couldn't save the Lobos if it was only up to her. If luring kids to Albuquerque is that tough, I'd think at least you'd want someone you could trust to make sure the brochures get sent to the right address.