Neal's first year at the helm started with the T-shirts "Unfinished Business", and the 2013-2014 result of 27-7 overall (15-3 MWC) record, another MWC Tourney championship, and another Lobo 1st round loss in the NCAA tourney had many Lobo fans shaking their heads saying "Business as Usual"
With that Neal went to work putting his personal stamp on this program that has basically become a full player and assistants coach turnover, different player styles, different offensive and defensive style. Neal has in a very nice way completely changed the basketball program.
With all the changes and last year's record VP Paul Krebs has seen enough to put some money on the "come line" offering Craig Neal a new contract that makes him the highest paid basketball coach in the Mountain West Conference the ABQ Journal is reporting $950,000 per year, an annual raise of $200,000.
While the majority of Lobo Nation is happy with the news there are some that now want to see Krebs "Come Bet" pay off and don't want to hear excuses or "7-Out" when it comes to the NCAA tourney.
Here is he official release from the University of New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The University of New Mexico and head men’s basketball coach Craig Neal have agreed to a new contract. The new terms of the signed agreement are six years and $5.7 million plus incentives, which will keep Neal at the helm of the Lobo basketball program through 2020.
“We are committed to building a basketball program that is competitive nationally and emphasizes the integrity and values that define UNM athletics,” President Robert G. Frank said. “Coach Neal has demonstrated that he not only meets but exceeds that expectation. We want to ensure that he is here to build a long term championship dynasty.”
In his first year at UNM, Neal led the Lobos to a 27-7 record and an appearance in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. New Mexico won the 2014 Mountain West Tournament and became the first program in conference history to win three consecutive tournament championships. Neal was the first coach in program history to lead the Lobos to the NCAA Tournament in his first season as head coach. His 27 wins were also the most ever by a rookie Lobo coach and the 12th most by a first-year coach in NCAA Division I history.
“Leadership and continuity are crucial aspects of leading a program,” said Paul Krebs, Vice President for Athletics. “In his short time as head coach, Craig has done an exemplary job of coaching his team, mentoring his student-athletes and leading a top-25 program. His commitment to the success of the program on and off the court was made evident in his first season as head coach.”
The Lobos excelled off the court as well last year. The program posted its highest team grade point average (2.94) in eight seasons this spring. The team also posted an APR score of 990 in the most recent data released by the NCAA, which puts UNM in the top 10 percent nationally in APR. Furthermore, New Mexico led the MW with six academic all-conference selections this past season.
“I am very excited about this commitment made by UNM President Dr. Robert Frank, VP for Athletics Paul Krebs, the board of regents and the university,” Neal said. “This means a lot to me and our program. I’ve received tremendous support from our administration, university and fans in my first year as head coach. It all reaffirmed to me that the University of New Mexico is where I want to spend my career. I can’t wait to continue leading this outstanding program and representing our university, our community and our state.”
The Cherry and Silver had three
members from the 2013-14 roster sign professional contracts this
summer. Forward Cameron Bairstow was selected by the Chicago Bulls
with the 49th pick of the NBA Draft and has already
signed a multi-year contract with Chicago. Alex Kirk also signed a
multi-year deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Kendall Williams
signed with Vuelle Basket Pesaro in the Italian A League. Former
Lobo Tony Snell will reunite with Bairstow in Chicago. Snell was
drafted by the Bulls with the 20th overall pick in the
2013 NBA Draft.
“His visibility as head coach in our community has made Craig an integral part of the leadership of our athletic department,” Krebs continued. “He has quickly established himself as a great representative of the University of New Mexico in our state and throughout the country.
“It became even more apparent to me over the offseason that Craig is well respected nationally in the basketball community. After watching him manage a national program, recruit high-caliber student-athletes and solidify himself as a top coach in nation, I felt it was vital to ensure his place as head basketball coach at the University of New Mexico for years to come.”
Craig Neal was introduced as New
Mexico’s head coach on April 2, 2013 after spending the previous
six seasons as UNM’s associate head coach under Steve Alford. As
the program’s top assistant from 2007 to 2013, Neal was a key cog
in the program’s six conference championships during that time.