Back in May the Rio Grande Foundation cheekily proposed merging the UNM and NMSU football programs. This idea generated a great deal of media coverage and some derision from local sports talk shows. But, less than six months later, a few developments have occurred that indicate we may have been ahead of our time in talking about SOME kind of shift in New Mexico’s Division I football programs.
1) In addition to millions of taxpayer dollars both NMSU and UNM athletic departments receive approximately $3.5 million in student fees annually. Gov. MLG plans to include fees in her “free” college proposal. Will accountability for athletic department budgets simply go out the window under her proposal?
2) UNM and NMSU both STINK in football this year. The Lobos are 2-5 with one win against a lower division team and one against the NMSU Aggies. They got destroyed 66-14 and play teams with winning records the rest of the way through the season. Those may be the only 2 wins they have this season while the Aggies are 0-7 with losses of 52-7 and 62-10 to Washington State and Alabama consecutively. Out of 130 Division I football teams, the Lobos currently rank 122 and the Aggies rank 128.
3) The idea of paying players is catching on (it has been adopted in California and is being discussed here in New Mexico). Yes, the idea is “endorsements, but if you don’t think the “big boys” are going to make sure their players cash in, then you don’t know college sports.
This idea has the potential to force UNM and NMSU out of the “big money” game of college athletics entirely or at least shift it out of football’s top division. On the other hand, unless the Gov.’s plan has protections against “free” college money being used to support sports programs through higher student fees, look out!
2 Replies to “Lobo/Aggie football and MLG’s plan for “free” college”
If you want to know how truly awful the Lobos and Aggies have been over the years, take a look at this web site: https://www.sports-reference.com/
If my calculations are correct, in the 25 years from 1994 through 2018. the Lobos played 304 games and won only 125 for a winning percentage of 41%. Ouch.
I’ve always felt that one of the major reasons that the Lobos and Aggies are so miserable is because the state university system is one of the most financially mismanaged in the country. AZ, with a population of 7 million has three state universities that grant 4 year degrees. NM, with a population of 2.1 million, has seven.
Football is a cash-intensive and population-intensive sport. You need lots of both and we have neither. Boise State is able to do it, but Idaho has some big companies to put the money up. The National Labs which drive the local economy in many respects aren’t going to do that.