NMSU Officials Express Support For Western Athletic Conference

Las Cruces – NMSU President Barbara Couture has announced she will meet with the faculty senate on September 2 to discuss concerns about University funds used to close a deficit in the athletic budget.

In a written statement e-mailed to the campus community, Couture said:

As you all now know, three teams in the Western Athletic Conference will leave the WAC and join the Mountain West Conference. This is a disappointing blow to the WAC, and it will require the remaining universities to work hard to ensure a successful future. Although the membership developments are a concern, our NMSU program has shown progress in the last year, in the academic and athletic achievements of our student athletes and in completing the year within the budget our Regents approved for the program. I look forward to more progress this year.

I also understand and I am mindful of the concerns that have been raised regarding the program's long-term financial situation. On Sept. 2, I will meet with the faculty senate to discuss these concerns. In the next few days, we also will post information regarding the athletic budget on our website so the details of the long-term financial plan can be reviewed by all. It is important to note that our WAC membership involves fiduciary responsibility and long-standing financial obligations that NMSU cannot dismiss without significant costs. At the same time, I have pledged to make academic support a top priority at our university and we will do so while addressing these conference obligations.

NMSU Athletic Director McKinley Boston also addressed the situation in a memo e-mailed to the campus community.

Memo From NMSU Athletic Director McKinley Boston:

As many of you know, the Western Athletic Conference made an important announcement last week regarding conference membership. Specifically, WAC members Nevada and Fresno State accepted an invitation to join the Mountain West Conference and will leave the WAC. Earlier this summer, WAC member Boise State also announced that they would join the MWC. The developments regarding Nevada and Fresno State are particularly surprising because a few days earlier all WAC members formed a buyout pact intended to keep the league intact. The penalty for leaving was established at $5 million.

As the WAC currently stands, we are a nine-member conference for the 2010-2011 season and an eight-member conference in 2011-2012 (after Boise State departs). The NCAA minimum to be recognized as an affiliated conference is six members, which the WAC still meets after Nevada and Fresno State leave.

While it will take time to sort out all the options, we remain confident in the WAC leadership and are optimistic that a strong solution will be developed. The WAC and the remaining members established a New Membership Committee, which will consist of a combination of athletic directors and university presidents. I will represent NMSU. We will keep you posted as new information becomes available.

We also realize that concerns have been raised about the financial situation of our department. My intention is to join President Couture at the next faculty/senate meeting on Sept. 2 to listen to your concerns and discuss where we are headed.

While we acknowledge that the finances of our athletics program are in the forefront of many conversations, we also want to recognize that we have many points of pride. Our athletes are excelling both in the academic classes as well as their sports endeavors. Almost 60% of our student-athletes earned a 3.0 GPA or higher for the 10th consecutive semester, and several of our teams won WAC conference championships. Our student-athletes in Spring 2010 generated 5,518 credit hours for an average of 14.6 earned hours per student-athlete. Our newest team, women's soccer, had tremendous success in its inaugural season. We are very proud of our student-athletes.

New Mexico State Athletics is committed to the WAC, our student-athletes, the NMSU student body, NMSU faculty, staff and fans. Although we are unsure what the future holds for the WAC, our commitment to producing quality athletic teams and becoming a top-level, mid-major university has never been stronger. Thank you for your support of Aggie Athletics. We are committed to seeing a strong future for our program and NMSU.