Monday, March 25, 2013

Aggies, Sun Belt expected to lock arms in football

(The following story appeared on the Sun-News website Monday evening and will be in Tuesday's print edition of the newspaper)

New Mexico State University will likely have a football-playing home in 2014, expected to be football-only members of the Sun Belt Conference.

The school is expecting a membership offer from the Sun Belt within the next 24 hours and is in the process of going through approval from the NMSU president's office and board of regents according to multiple sources, who were not identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

The Sun Belt is expected to name Appalachian State and Georgia Southern as its newest members on Wednesday, which will bring the conference to 10 members.

By adding New Mexico State and Idaho as football-only affiliates, it will allow the Sun Belt a two-division football format that will provide a league championship game at season's end.

The Aggies have ties to the league — they were Sun Belt members from 2001-04 before joining the Western Athletic Conference for all sports.

In turn, they have a relationship with Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson, who was long-time commissioner of the WAC before taking the same position with the SBC last summer.

Such a move can be considered a step in the right direction, if for no other reason than the Aggies needing a Division I conference for their football program.

While they compiled an intriguing 2013 football schedule as an independent program, such a model doesn't seem sustainable officials say. Having the Sun Belt as a conference home will provide a level of stability from a scheduling standpoint, as well as a league NMSU can compete in while trying to get its football program off the ground.

For now, the Aggies remain a Western Athletic Conference member in all non-football sports. While the league has taken a hit from a competitive standpoint, it's also added enough members to retain automatic qualifying bids into respective NCAA Tournament fields.

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Anonymous said...

NMSU should push to join in all sports. Next time, don't leave. This was actually a good conference for them.

Anonymous said...

It's a win/win for both NMSU & Sun Belt Conf.
The Sun Belt has been raided by C-USA and was in trouble of becoming the new WAC.

It's kind of like getting back with your ex after various attempts to reconcile and she has slept around with the entire town but, this move provides stability for both parties.

NMSU will dominate the WAC in all sports. However, is the WAC even relevant in all sports?


Anonymous said...

According to ESPN only Appalachian State and Georgia Southern for sure .

Only mention of NMS and Idaho comes in this statement at the end of the article " Benson also indicated that his league COULD consider former WAC schools New Mexico State and Idaho as football-only members."

" We also are exploring the possibility of football-only members, and it's not just limited to NMSU and Idaho."

Don't assume anything yet.