Amid NCAA investigation, Reffett hired to coach New Mexico's defense

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- New Mexico coach Rocky Long insisted
Thursday there was "absolutely no link" between an NCAA
investigation into his program and the departure of his top
defensive assistant.

Announcing the promotion of cornerbacks coach Troy Reffett to
defensive coordinator, Long denied that former coordinator Osia
Lewis recently left for the same position at UTEP because of the
NCAA probe.

"There's absolutely no link between him leaving and anything to
do with the NCAA," Long said. "You ought to ask on the other end.
... The other school wouldn't hire you if there was a problem."

The NCAA has accused New Mexico of four rules violations in an
academic fraud investigation. The school conducted an internal
investigation that confirmed three of the charges.

New Mexico is contesting an allegation that an assistant coach
interfered with the NCAA investigation. The school will present its
case to the NCAA infractions committee at an April 18 hearing in

Three unidentified assistants are accused of helping four
recruits and one student athlete already enrolled at New Mexico
improperly obtain course credits through Fresno Pacific University.

Two of the accused coaches were no longer with the program when
the investigation was disclosed last fall.

Long, who is not accused of any wrongdoing, defended Lewis.

"He's been cleared of all problems with the investigation,"
Long said. "It had nothing to do with him leaving."

New Mexico is coming off a 9-4 season highlighted by the
school's first bowl victory in 46 years, while Texas-El Paso went
4-8. The Lobos ranked in the top 20 nationally in many defensive
categories while UTEP was near the bottom.

Long said there's a simple reason the 45-year-old Lewis would
leave. Lewis aspires to become a head coach, Long said, and feels
he can improve his stock under UTEP coach Mike Price.

"I'm a defensive head coach," Long said. "A guy who wants to
run the show wants to work for an offensive head coach and that's
what he'll do at UTEP. Mike Price is an offensive head coach, so
Osia will be in complete control of the defense."

Efforts to reach Lewis for comment were unsuccessful.

UTEP hasn't announced the move, adding a measure of confusion,
but a school official confirmed that Lewis is expected to be hired
next week. An announcement has been delayed because his job
application was being processed.

Reffett, 40, coached cornerbacks under Long for the past four
years. Before that, he spent 14 seasons at UTEP, including in
2002-03 as defensive coordinator under former coach Gary Nord.

Reffett said he has no qualms about working as coordinator under
Long, who makes the decisions about defensive schemes leading up to
each game and, after kickoff, determines the adjustments.

"You can learn a lot that way," Reffett said. "When you sit
in the meetings with him, he's got over 30 years of experience
running this defense. Then, on game day, how he handles the course
of the game, the flow, what he's thinking, how he puts together a
game plan.

"It's a great situation to be in," he said.