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Future Of NMSU Athletics Being Studied

Published On: Jul 11 2012 06:00:05 PM CDT
Updated On: Nov 24 2010 06:36:24 AM CST
LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -

The business of Division 1 athletics can be difficult, especially in this economy.

At places like New Mexico State, where low attendance has always been a factor, it can lead to some very tough decisions.

Recently ABC-7 sat down with NMSU Director of Athletics Dr. McKinley Boston to discuss the future of the Aggie athletic program and what the school is doing to make sure it continues to compete at the Division 1 level.

"A major concern of mine is basketball tickets," Dr. Boston said. "We had a WAC championship last year, we had an NCAA caliber team. We averaged slightly under 6,000 fans. Two years earlier we averaged about 9,000 fans." T hat and other financial issues surrounding the program have led NMSU's sixth year AD Dr. McKinley Boston to hire a consultant to do some research.

"Especially as it relates to ticket sales, fundraising, corporate sales," Dr. Boston said. "We need to better understand our market."

While the Aggies have won in basketball, they've never been able to establish anything consistent in football, where they've had just four winning seasons in 40 years and no bowl game for a half century and counting.

"There's always discussions during periods of fiscal austerity about, and especially if you're not having winning football, whether or not the investment is worth it," Dr. Boston said.

Still, Dr. Boston said the university is committed to staying Division 1 in football.

"I think the question, like many many schools around the country are going through now, is whether or not you can operate at the same level and or sustain expenditures at the same level."

Playing in a town of about 100,000, Dr. Boston said it's much more difficult than what UTEP faces in a town of about a million.

"It's a hell of a lot easier to be more independent," he said.

NMSU has averaged only about 16,000 per football game over the past decade. Meanwhile, UTEP has averaged about twice that.

"The one disappointment for me after being here for six years is that I have not seen the return on investment in football," Dr. Boston said, "but I know we're getting better."

Despite only two wins this season, Dr. Boston is convinced that the Aggies -- under second-year head coach Dewayne Walker -- are getting more competitive.

He said the biggest issue NMSU is facing is less money coming from the state, which is dealing with a massive deficit. Currently the athletic department gets a $4 million a year subsidy.

"I know there's going to be budget cuts," he said. "The question at this point is the depth of those cuts."

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