Sun Belt Expansion: New Mexico State Another Reported Target

The WAC may have been raided by the Mountain West yet again, Conference USA yet again and even the distant Sun Belt, but at least it's got a pair of schools left it can use to try and coerce some FCS programs into moving up. Yes sir, Idaho and New Mexico State. It's not mu- oh. Oh, dear.

NMSU was a member of the Sun Belt until 2005, when it and Idaho both left to join the WAC. New Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson was the WAC commissioner from 1994 through 2011, meaning he could twice coax New Mexico State to join his conference, if the reported interest becomes an offer. And if there's an offer, the Aggies would fall over themselves to accept it.

Tuesday night, NMSU president Barbara Couture and AD McKinley Boston issued the following letter:

Much discussion is taking place in the news about possible shifts that may occur among the WAC football playing schools. Some believe New Mexico State University and the University of Idaho are likely to end up on the outside looking in at the end of this process.

We both felt the need to address this issue with our fans, students, alumni and broader university community.

The changes in conference alignments that began several years ago and continue today are unprecedented in college sports. This is truly a new day when the sports, primarily football, are ruled by the potential for TV coverage. We all understand that. Now we are beginning to better comprehend just how far-reaching this new reality can be. Of course, New Mexico State University has no major media market to bring to the table. Without that market our "value" as a conference member appears to be less than other schools with less successful programs but that are located in areas with a greater population. The same thing appears to be the case for the University of Idaho.

We want to assure the community that we will continue to take any and all measures we feel might assist us in reaching a successful solution to this current challenge.

We take great pride in our student-athletes and their successes on and off the court. Our student-athletes are among our best and brightest students. They graduate at a higher rate with higher grade point averages than the student body as a whole. They also achieve success on the field. We are proud that we stand near the top of the WAC Commissioners Cup with the possibility of capturing it as the most overall successful athletic program among current WAC schools.

We continue to explore all options and ask our university community of alumni, supporters and students to stand united with us as we seek solutions.

Make no mistake, we will be playing football next year and we will be competing in a revised WAC conference for the 2012-2013 school year. Our near-term goals are to compete successfully. We look forward to having you there with us as we show the rest of the world what makes NMSU an excellent athletic-and academic-institution.

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