Locksley's having a tough start at New Mexico

Posted by ESPN.com’s Graham Watson

New Mexico coach Mike Locksley was issued "a verbal reprimand" with a follow-up letter placed in his personnel file on Monday stemming from a Sept. 20 altercation with an assistant coach.

Receivers coach J.B. Gerald told Albuquerque police that the fight occurred during a "heated" coaches meeting. Locksley became angry, grabbed Gerald by the collar and punched him as other coaches tried to break up the melee.

Athletic director Paul Krebs said at a news conference Monday that while the exchange “crossed the line” he supports his head football coach.

Gerald has been on paid leave since the incident, but Krebs said he could rejoin the team when ready.

This news is the latest in what has been a tumultuous year so far for the first-year head coach.

Last spring, Locksley was accused of sexual harassment, age discrimination and retaliation in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint filed by a former football administrative assistant. The outcome of the complaint is still pending.

And he hasn’t been able to detract attention from the off-field problems with on-field success. The Lobos are 0-4 and have lost by an average of 24 points. They rank in the 100s in 14 of the 17 major NCAA categories, including second-to-last in scoring offense and 118th in total offense. The only categories in which they are excelling are pass defense, sacks and tackles for loss.

Locksley told the Albuquerque Journal after this past week’s loss to in-state rival New Mexico State that he didn’t think the start was “that bad.”

Locksley has been involved in rebuilding programs before. In his previous job at Illinois, Locksley was the offensive coordinator for a team that was 3-8 before Ron Zook’s staff got there. They won two games each of the next two seasons before going to the Rose Bowl in Year 3.

"The average Joe looking from the outside in doesn't see it," Locksley told the paper. "But we've got a really strong foundation of young players that are playing a lot of plays for us that are doing some really good things.

"These kids have given everything we ask. I have no choice or alternative but to play with the guys that are available to me and I have a lot of faith in these guys."