LAS CRUCES – New Mexico state athletics could be on their way to the United States Conference, joining rival UTEP in the same conference for the first time since the old Borders Conference in 1961.
The NMSU Board of Directors has scheduled a special meeting for 11 a.m. on Friday, where there is only one action item on the agenda: the consideration of a proposed change of sports conference.
On Monday, Action Network’s Brett McMurphy reported that independent members of FBS New Mexico State and Liberty and FCS Jacksonville State and Sam Houston State were “likely” to join Conference USA as full members.
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The State of New Mexico has been an independent football program of FBS since 2018. The rest of the Aggies Sports are currently participating in the Western Athletic Conference.
The move to C-USA would affect all sports.
“The board will vote on what is proposed to them,” New Mexico State University spokesperson Justin Bannister said. “There are also public comments. We anticipate at least a few people who will express their feelings on this issue.”
Bannister could not confirm whether the university received an offer from Conference USA.
In their policy manual, the regents reserve the power “to approve changes in the composition of the conference.” Such approval is usually given on the recommendation (s) of the Chancellor and the Sports Director.
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C-USA currently consists of five schools – UTEP, Western Kentucky, Florida International, Middle Tennessee State, and Louisiana Tech.
The league needs a minimum of eight full members who sponsor FBS football to remain a conference and maintain its college football playoff cast. Last year, C-USA received $ 17 million from college football playoffs to be distributed among conference members.
As an independent, NM State was awarded the minimum of $ 300,000 for the football team meeting the NCAA Academic Progress Rate requirements.
C-USA has been decimated by the last round of realignments, losing 9 of 14 schools to Sun Belt or American Athletic conferences with two more – western Kentucky and middle Tennessee state – reportedly in talks to join the Mid-American, according to McMurphy.
If C-USA lost two more schools to the MAC, the conference would still need one more full member, possibly an FCS school in transition to reach the minimum of eight FBS conference schools. If WKU and Middle Tennessee stay, C-USA would have seven schools ready to play FBS football with Sam Houston State and Jacksonville State in two years as bridging programs.
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Sam Houston State currently plays football in the WAC as one of six schools participating in a new FCS league.
The FCS is the subdivision of the football championship and is considered a lower echelon than the FBS, the subdivision of the Football Bowl.
Although the WAC hopes to play football at the FBS level, it is still unclear when the conference will be able to do so, or if an FBS WAC would receive CFP funds.
“This (C-USA loses at least six members) is the event the school hopes to find to attend an FBS conference,” said Mario Moccia, director of NM State Athletics, in an interview with the Sun-News in October.