New Mexico's Kirk message to AD: I'm gone if you don't hire Craig Neal

By Jeff Goodman | College Basketball Insider

New Mexico big man Alex Kirk, moments after being blindsided by the departure of Steve Alford to UCLA, told athletic director Paul Krebs the only way there's a chance that he remains with the Lobos is if associate head coach Craig "Noodles" Neal is hired.

"I'll graduate in August and transfer to UCLA," the 7-foot Kirk told Krebs, according to a source.

The team was at a community service event when the players learned the news before being informed by Alford or the staff. The source said there were plenty of tears in the locker room, and players are evaluating their options.

The source also said it's not 100 percent that Kirk or the other players would remain even if Neal, who has been Alford's right-hand man for years, gets the job. However, the odds would certainly increase that there isn't a mass exodus.

"It would certainly increase their chances for keeping the core of the team intact," the source said.

New Mexico junior Tony Snell recently said he was declaring for the NBA Draft, but the Lobos return most of their key players -- including Kendall Williams (13.3 ppg) and Kirk (12.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg).

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