Friday, June 15, 2012
Interpreting Paul Krebs' comments, and what they mean for New Mexico State University
Earlier this week, the University of New Mexico's Board of Regents reportedly gave full support for New Mexico State University's inclusion into the Mountain West Conference.
The following day, Wednesday, UNM Athletics Director Paul Krebs (pictured) went on 610 The Sports Animal, an Albuquerque-based radio program, and talked about the move from the board of regents and what it meant going forward. The question-and-answer session from The Sports Animal:
Question: How beneficial is it for the University of New Mexico to have New Mexico State as a member of the Mountain West?
Krebs: I think what the Board of Regents did yesterday was show support for a sister school in the state. Obviously, New Mexico State's a big rival for us. Rivalries are no good — it takes two hands to clap. You got to have competitors to make rivalries. And New Mexico State finds itself, from my view, in a very difficult situation. The Board of Regents thought it was in the best interest for the state of New Mexico and the best interest…to support their candidacy. I don't think it changes what happens in the Mountain West Conference, I don't think it changes or has any impact on their ability to get into the league. But clearly it was the right thing to do, to show support for a sister school in the state and I think that's why the board did what they did.
Question: From a competition standpoint, especially when you look at sports like baseball, basketball, when you look at sports where you'd play them multiple times a year, how much is it a benefit to have that be a conference situation versus being an out-of-conference situation?
Krebs: I think the point to recognize here is that I don't think what the Board did has any impact on New Mexico State getting into our conference. It will have zero effect. I think it was an important statement for our university to make, it was an important show of solidarity. But in the end, it's not going to change anything in my view in terms of their ability to get into this conference. It was really a show of good faith and an appropriate show of good faith. It's important for us to continue to play New Mexico State and I think you'll see us continue to play them. From our perspective we'd like to play them twice in men's and women's basketball like we do, we think the rivalries in the olympic sports are great and our fans pay a lot of attention to it. But, again, I don't think what the board did yesterday will have any impact whatsoever on New Mexico State getting into the conference.
Question: From that last statement, can we gather that UNM won't be very active in politicking for New Mexico State to get into the Mountain West Conference and has there been any discussions of maybe getting Gov. Susana Martinez involved in this as well?
Krebs: No, I don't think you can gather that from that statement. I think President Schmidly before him, and President Frank, have both helped make the case for New Mexico State to come into the conference. I think what you can gather from that statement is that there's not a lot of support from the other members of the league to have New Mexico State come in. We are just one vote. Both presidents, former and current, have advocated for New Mexico State. But, based upon the discussions that I hear in those meetings, there just isn't the support for New Mexico State to come into the league.
Question: What would be the next step (in the process of conference membership) and what do you feel is the time frame for the conference to ultimately decide on New Mexico State or any other school for that matter?
Krebs: I'm not sure that that's the question to be asked. Our league is at 10 schools right now, Hawaii in football, and nine other schools moving into the future. And I think that's where you're gonna see our league stay for the time being. Krebs: We continue to look at options, we continue to explore the landscape and look at options that make the most sense for the conference. When they happen, they happen. New Mexico State's made it known they've wanted into the league and we continue to look at the landscape. There isn't a timeline that says we have to make a decision by this day or that day. I think there is not a lot of support for New Mexico State. Having said that, I think the conference continues to look at all options and keep all options open. But we're comfortable with who we are moving forward.
Question: What are some of the objections that you are hearing about New Mexico State coming from the other schools?
Krebs: I don't think that's the question, that's not the way it happens in meetings. It's more, the issue's been raised. Understand that I'm not necessarily in the room when the presidents are discussing it. But I know that both presidents have raised the issue. The issue's been raised and…..that's the end of the conversation essentially. In other words, ‘hey, we're advocating for New Mexico State’…..It's not as though people sit around the room and ‘OK, here are the pros and the cons. The schools typically send volumes of information to the ADs, to the presidents, to the conference office. It's not as though they sit and decide what are the pros, what are the cons of adding somebody. There simply is not a lot of interest. And so it essentially dies.
I feel the same way about this issue now than I did before I heard the Krebs interview on Wednesday evening.
That is, NMSU getting into the Mountain West is a longshot, and a few things would have to break the Aggies way for such a move to take place.
For starters, the Mountain West has to decide to move to a 12-team football league (which I believe will in fact come to fruition).
Then, Boise State and San Diego State will have to decide to stay in the Big East in football and not move their programs back into the Mountain West (they'll be in the MWC for the 2012-13 academic year before moving on).
Then, the Mountain West will exhaust other options — perhaps a UTEP or a BYU. Perhaps some other options as well — before considering the Aggies. In other words, at this point, I believe NMSU is a last resort for the league.
I do think there could be more support coming for the Aggies than Krebs indicated. Mike Martin, the new chancellor at Colorado State, used to be president at NMSU, and has a soft spot for the Aggies. Gene Bleymaier built Boise State from the ground up, and is now the athletics director at San Jose State, another former WAC program that's recently made the move to the MWC. I don't think Utah State would stand in NMSU's way, nor do I believe will UNM.
For the record, I do believe the Mountain West would be the best option for NMSU. From the standpoint of overall financial investments into their athletics program, I don't think the Aggies would be on equal ground with some of the MWC programs, which would be an issue. But from a geographic standpoint, rivalry standpoint, and just a cache standpoint, it's clearly the best option.
The one thing for the Aggies: much of their current future, i.e. getting into the Mountain West, at this point, is based off of hope more than anything else.
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