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UNM president riled up by scheduling story

After reading a story in the Albuquerque Journal about how New Mexico coach Steve Alford received a $10,000 bonus for the team's "so-so" strength of schedule, university president David Schmidly had enough and fired off a strongly-worded letter to the editor defending his coach and criticizing the beat writer at the paper.

"Having read Mark Smith's broadside, 'Alford Cashes In on a So-So Schedule,' it occurs to me a diligent reporter would share with his readers some basic facts that speak to the totality of Steve Alford's tenure at UNM," Schmidly wrote before noting Alford's success with players on the court and in the classroom.

"The reporter's limited perspective also fails to speak of the overall contribution Steve Alford has made to UNM, its basketball program and the community. He's helped Special Olympics New Mexico raise more than a quarter million dollars. In his four years here, Coach Alford has rekindled Lobo Pride in its premiere sport. He has brought honor and national attention to our university. He is an individual to celebrate, not denigrate."

Schmidly's letter was published by the Albuquerque Journal and represents a rare case in which a dispute with a beat reporter has not only reached the highest level of the university, but has also been made public.

The current issue arose after the school disputed that it had a weak nonconference strength of schedule, noting that it was ranked 152nd in the nation at the end of the nonconference season while Smith confirmed that at the end of the season, the NCAA ranked it 284th.

Schmidly, who did not dispute the facts of the strength of schedule story in his letter, is now making his feelings known about Smith at a time when the Lobos are likely entering the season as the favorites in the Mountain West.

The Albuquerque Journal had this response to Schmidly's letter:

"Throughout Steve Alford's four-year tenure as UNM men’s basketball coach, Mark Smith and the Journal have chronicled Alford's successes along the way. One story, headlined "Tank or Rank" on July 31, covered much of what President Schmidly addresses. It compared coach Alford's record -- favorably, in most cases -- to that of his predecessors. We also have written of his involvement with Special Olympics. Smith's Sept. 9 story was not intended to recap Alford's career at UNM; it focused on the strength of UNM's nonconference schedule and Alford's bonuses, as provided by his contract."