New Mexico basketball coach's wife accused of battery
Albuquerque, N.M. • The wife of newly hired New Mexico basketball coach Craig Neal has been accused of battery for allegedly grabbing a school official after one of her son's high school basketball games, police reports and the district attorney's office confirm.
The Neals' son, Cullen Neal, was a high-profile player for Eldorado who recently signed scholarship papers with New Mexico after being let out of his letter of intent with St. Mary's.
Eldorado High School assistant principal Susan Stanojevic told police that after a Feb. 21 game, Janet Neal "lunged at me and aggressively grabbed my left arm, yanking me to face her," according to an Albuquerque Police Department report. "At the same time, she put her face close to mine and in an angry, loud voice, stated, 'the next time you want to accuse me of using profanity at a basketball game, you need to talk to me first.'"
The confrontation apparently stemmed from a prior incident in which Stanojevic claimed to have overheard Neal making verbally abusive remarks about the referees following a game also involving her son, according to the police report.
Neal denied the allegations to police and through her attorney, Michael Danoff.
The case was referred to the Bernalillo County district attorney as battery on a school employee, a fourth-degree felony that carries a maximum prison sentence of 18 months, and is under review, according to spokeswoman Kayla Anderson.
Following the initial confrontation, Albuquerque Public Schools officers asked Neal to leave the area, but she resisted, reports show.
"I then advised (Mrs.) Neal she could leave in handcuffs or on her own. That was up to her," community service officer L.G. Valenzuela said in his report.
In a supplementary report by APD investigator officer Christian Baker, Neal said that she "did not grab Susan forcefully nor did she threaten her."
Later in the report Neal said she did not "grab her, I did not threaten her and I did not feel physical towards her."