Mike Locksley returning at New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Mike Locksley will return next season as New Mexico's coach.

Athletic director Paul Krebs made the announcement Thursday, saying he has finished his evaluation of the football program and determined Locksley will return.

Krebs said the announcement was made "to quiet speculation about our head football coaching position" and said it's important for recruits to know Locksley is coming back.

The Lobos finished 1-11 for the second straight season under Locksley, who was hired in December 2008 after four seasons as Illinois' offensive coordinator. Had Locksley been fired, a buyout would have cost the university almost $1.5 million.

"Neither Mike nor I are satisfied with the on-field results and we both expect improvement in 2011," Krebs said in a statement.

Krebs also said the Lobos under Locksley have endured hardships, including injuries, difficult scheduling and scholarship restrictions imposed on the program after an NCAA investigation into academic fraud during the tenure of former coach Rocky Long.

NCAA investigators found two former assistant coaches broke rules and Long, who resigned after reaching five bowl games in 11 seasons, was never accused of wrongdoing.

Under NCAA recruiting sanctions, Locksley could offer only 20 scholarships, instead of the usual 25, over the past two seasons. The Lobos will have 21 scholarships available for next season and the figure returns to 25 in 2012.

Locksley said after Saturday's season-ending 66-17 loss to TCU that changes would be coming, hinting he might need to dismiss assistants or make personnel changes. He offered no specifics but indicated he remains determined to succeed at New Mexico.

Krebs offered his support.

"Mike and I expect to see improvement in year three and this administration firmly believes that 2011 will show that improvement on the field," Krebs said.

With another week of action remaining for a few schools, the Lobos rank last nationally among 120 teams in total offense (265.6 yards per game) and 115th in scoring offense (15.83 points). New Mexico is 119th in total defense (469 yards) and last in scoring defense (44.33).

The Lobos rank among the bottom 20 in several NCAA statistical categories.

Locksley made news early in his New Mexico tenure because of a sexual harassment lawsuit by a former administrative assistant and an altercation with a former assistant, leading Krebs to order a 10-day suspension for Locksley.

Last week before the TCU game, Locksley suspended three players after they were involved in a bar fight.