NMSU president makes pitch as Sun Belt prepares to vote on terminating Aggies’ football-only membership

New Mexico State University president Garrey Carruthers picks up a bat in the first inning during a Division I NCAA college softball game against Minnesota, Friday, May 15, 2015, in Tucson, Ariz. Carruthers was honorary bat boy for the game. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

New Mexico State University President Garrey Carruthers made a presentation via teleconference to Sun Belt Conference representatives on Wednesday seeking a long term home for the Aggies’ football program past the current agreement, which is set to expire after the 2017 season.

A NMSU spokesperson said there were 11 representatives from Sun Belt Conference schools and that Carruthers’ presentation lasted about 25 minutes.

“[Carruthers] was on his ‘A’ game,” NMSU athletics director Mario Moccia said. “It’s political season and he knows how to get votes. In my opinion, it is going to come down to finances and things like that.”

Sun Belt Conference presidents will vote to either extend or terminate the football only membership of both NMSU and Idaho on March 10 during the Sun Belt Conference Basketball Tournament in New Orleans.

NMSU needs 75 percent approval, or nine of the 12 votes to remain in the league. Carruthers made a presentation that emphasized the potential value the Aggie football program adds to the league, despite its far-west location, through potential distribution of “AggieVision” telecasts, as well as an upward trajectory on the football field in the first three seasons under head coach Doug Martin.

NMSU believes it can alleviate geography concerns over the television airwaves, providing high definition broadcasts of NMSU home games back to opposing Sun Belt markets. NMSU would allow Sun Belt Conference schools the ability to create revenue by providing distribution back to the visiting team and allow the visitor to insert advertising for games that were not selected by Sun Belt national or regional television packages.

“I think AggieVision will play a big role in whether they want to overlook the distance, and say, ‘If we are playing [at NMSU] and [NMSU] will give us a free feed in high definition to serve our fanbase back here, that would be a nice trade off,’ I hope,” Carruthers said.

NMSU’s presentation highlighted a growing football budget of $7 million, which ranked third in the Sun Belt Conference and a total athletics budget of $25.7 million, which ranked second among Sun Belt schools.

Coming off a three-win season, Moccia hopes the Aggies football team will improve on a 3-5 Sun Belt Conference win total and help the league move up the Group of Five standings in an effort to land a New Years Day bowl game and the increase in potential College Football Playoff revenue that comes with it.

NMSU and Idaho are not tied together in the March vote, but the Sun Belt now has the ability to hold a championship game with fewer than 12 teams. Sun Belt presidents will need to determine if an eight-game league schedule will still be favorable moving forward.

“Money and adding value, and scheduling, in my opinion are how we can win this,” Moccia said.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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