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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's bad record, a lack of fan support, and a number of "embarrassing" off-the-field events led to the firing of head football coach Mike Locksley, athletic director Paul Krebs said Monday.
Speaking at a news conference on campus, Krebs said he told Locksley on Sunday of his decision to fire him after the Lobos lost 48-45 in overtime Saturday to Sam Houston State before an announced crowd of 16,313 — the smallest home crowd in nearly two decades.
"In the end I made a decision I thought needed to be made," said Krebs. "I did not see any good ending to this story."
UNM President David Schmidly said he fully supported the decision.
Locksley had been surrounded by controversy almost as soon as he became head coach three years ago. During his tenure, Locksley faced a sexual harassment suit, a suspension after he punched another coach, and, most recently, criticism after police arrested his son's friend on suspicion of driving while intoxicated in an SUV registered to Locksley's wife.
A school official said Joshua Butts, 19, borrowed a vehicle from Locksley's son, who's a walk-on player for the Lobos.
Krebs said the friend is not a recruit and has been living with the family for about a month.
But in addition to the off-the-field events around Locksley, Krebs said he was also concerned about the Lobos' record.
The Lobos are 0-4 this season. They were 2-26 under Locksley.
"I know he had the greatest hopes and aspirations" when he was hired, Krebs said. But Krebs said Locksley just didn't work out.
"This was not successful," he said. "This was not a good decision."
Krebs said the school averages around $2 million in ticket sales from football. But this year, he said the school is projected to bring in only about $1.3 million due to fan apathy.
Krebs said Locksley would be paid for this season and $150,000 a year for the next two years, according to a contract that was recently renegotiated.
Associate head coach and defensive coordinator George Barlow was introduced Monday as interim head coach for the rest of the season. Barlow said he was excited about the opportunity but sad because Locksley is a friend.
"My intention is to go out and win games," said Barlow, who becomes the 30th head coach in the school's history and is now one of the few black head coach at a Football Bowl Subdivision school.
In December 2008, Locksley was hired as the Lobos' 29th head coach after four seasons as Illinois' offensive coordinator, replacing Rocky Long, who resigned after reaching five bowl games in 11 seasons with New Mexico. Locksley, then 38, became the school's first black head coach.
Locksley's hiring generated excitement initially as he came to Albuquerque with a reputation as an accomplished recruiter, meeting a top priority outlined when the search began. He pledged to be an enthusiastic salesman for the program.
But he inherited scholarship and recruiting restrictions imposed after NCAA investigators found two assistants under Long broke rules in an academic fraud scandal. Long was never accused of wrongdoing.
Locksley was able to offer only 20 scholarships instead of the usual 25 for the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
He made news early in his New Mexico tenure because of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former administrative assistant and an altercation with a former assistant coach, leading Krebs to order a 10-day suspension for Locksley.
Before a game against TCU last November, Locksley suspended three players who had been involved in a bar fight.
In September 2010, Locksley and a student reporter got into a verbal exchange at an Albuquerque bar.
Earlier this month, strength and conditioning coach Troy Hatton was suspended following his arrest on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
Locksley leaves New Mexico with the worst winning percentage, .071, in the school's last 100 years.
Krebs said he hopes to hire a new coach by the end of the season but no timetable has been set.