ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico didn’t have to look far to find its next head coach.
Craig Neal, who spent the past six seasons as the team’s top assistant, was hired Tuesday to replace Steve Alford.
Athletic director Paul Krebs made the announcement in a one-word tweet: “Noodles,” a reference to Neal’s nickname. The university confirmed that Neal would be introduced as UNM’s 20th head basketball coach during a news conference Wednesday.
As assistant head coach under Alford, Neal helped the Lobos win back-to-back Mountain West Conference titles and reach three NCAA tournaments.
Players and fans had voiced their support for Neal as the top choice after Alford revealed last weekend that he was leaving for UCLA. Emotions were raw the last few days, but Krebs’ announcement helped dissolve some of the uncertainty and disappointment that was sparked by Alford’s departure.
While Krebs was guarded about the future of the head coaching spot on Saturday, he said during a news conference that Neal was a candidate and would provide continuity and stability for the program.
“If you’ve been around the program for the last six years, it’s not hard to understand Coach Neal has had a strong impact on the program,” Krebs said. “Craig is a critical part of the success. I think Craig is an outstanding coach.”
On Tuesday, Krebs also praised Neal for helping the team raise its academics to record levels and for pouring so much energy into the community.
Neal’s five-year contract will be worth $750,000 a year, plus incentives.
Neal said in a statement late Tuesday that he’s excited to build on what was started six years ago.
Before coaching at New Mexico, Neal spent three seasons with Alford at Iowa. Prior to that, he spent several seasons with the NBA’s Toronto Raptors as a scout and then as an assistant coach.
Neal played eight years in the NBA, CBA and Europe, beginning in Portland where he was a third-round draft pick of the Trail Blazers in 1988. He also played in Miami and Denver.
A two-year starter at Georgia Tech in the mid-1980s, Neal earned all-Atlantic Coast Conference honors as a senior in 1988 when he set the conference single-season record with 303 assists.
Neal has been involved with every facet of the Lobos program since joining the team in 2007, from on-the-floor coaching to game strategies and recruiting.
The Lobos have a 155-52 record over the last six seasons. They have also qualified for postseason play in all six of those seasons. After earning a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament this year, they were upset by Harvard in their first game.
- Breaking News
- Two dead after Bicknell shooting BICKNELL – At approximately 2 a.m. Wednesday morning, Indiana State Police, Knox County Sheriff’s Office and Bicknell Police responded to 707 Durbin Street in Bicknell after a 33-year-old Knox County man was shot and killed during an argument with an
- Accident claims life at Camp Illiana One person is dead following an accident at a popular Daviess County camp. The Daviess County Sheriff's Department has confirmed that Camp Illiana Executive Director David Bean died in an accident late Monday morning at the camp at 723E 450S. Authori
2 sought in Greene County murder
NEWARK - Two men are being sought by the Indiana State Police in connection with a murder in Greene County.
According to a release from the Indiana State Police, the Greene County Sheriff's Department received a 911 call reporting David Lamm, 54, Solsberry, had been killed at his residence.
- Both sides in Ukraine deny shooting down plane KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — A Ukrainian official said a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday as it flew over the country and plumes of black smoke rose up near a rebel-held village in eastern Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines tweeted that it
Official: Malaysian plane shot down over Ukraine
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — A Ukrainian official said a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday over a town in the east of the country, and Malaysian Airlines tweeted that it lost contact with one of its flights over Ukrainian airspace.
- Alliance Barrier officially marks first I-69 jobs Alliance Barrier Films cut the ribbon Friday and are the first manufacturing plant along the southern half of I-69. The $25 million facility opening was part of a ceremony that announced plans for a 40,000 to 60,000-square foot building along Washing
Cavs agree to multiplayer, 3-team trade
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cavaliers have created salary cap space to make sure they have enough to offer LeBron James a maximum contract. A person familiar with the deals says the Cavs have agreed to trade guard Jarrett Jack, swingman Sergey Karasev and c
- Leathers, locals protest clerk's same-sex marriage decision It all started last week when Shawn Colvin went to the Daviess County Courthouse to get a marriage license, one of the first same-sex marriage licenses to be issued after the decision to allow the licenses was made by the state. Simple enough except
- Former Daviess County judge dies Daviess County's first female judge has died. Judith Dwyer, who was both judge of the Daviess County Court and Daviess Superior Court died at her home Saturday at the age of 75. Dwyer was remembered by friends and colleagues as both a community leade
Daviess denies same-sex marriage licenses before federal halt
Daviess County continued to be one of the remaining counties not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples Friday.
- More Breaking News Headlines