LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) – The State of New Mexico’s journey through the college football wilderness as an FBS independent may soon come to an end.
According to a report from The Athletic, Conference USA is in negotiations with the NMSU and two other FBS independents, Connecticut (UConn) and Liberty, in the league. NMSU and Liberty would join all sports; UConn would join football only, according to the report.
A New Mexico state official did not confirm the report, saying only that the university was keeping its options open.
The potential additions of the FBS independent trio come as nine schools are expected to leave Conference USA by 2023, leaving only the CRF, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky and UTEP in the league. As of last week, the conference has been looking to add new universities to the league. NMSU has been rumored as a potential addition since last Friday.
The Aggies have been independent from FBS since the 2018 season, having won just seven games during that time. Athletics director Mario Moccia has said for years that the school’s number one priority from an athletic perspective would be getting back to a football conference.
If the state of New Mexico joined Conference USA, it would play in the same league as UTEP, having the chance to be travel partners with minors. Separated from the rest of the league by hundreds, and in some cases thousands of miles, it makes sense geographically for the Aggies and Miners to team up in this regard.
The State of New Mexico and UTEP have not attended the same conference since 1961, when the Boundaries Conference dissolved. For 60 years, the rivalry continued in the form of a non-conference fight. A return to a conference rivalry would only reinforce its importance to both schools.
With UConn joining only for football, the league is expected to add other schools for sports other than football. According to The Athletic, this would be the first step in rebuilding the conference with significant resources coming from a combination of outgoing member exit fees and new member entry fees.