Report: Conference USA in negotiations with New Mexico State, two other schools to join league


LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KTSM) – New Mexico State’s journey through the college football desert as an FBS Independent could soon be coming to an end.

According to a report from The Athletic, Conference USA is in negotiations with NMSU and two other FBS Independents, Connecticut (UConn) and Liberty, to the league. NMSU and Liberty would join for all sports; UConn would join for football only, per the report.

A New Mexico State official would not confirm the report, saying only that the university was keeping its options open.

The potential additions of the trio of FBS Independents comes as nine schools are set to leave Conference USA by 2023, leaving only FIU, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky and UTEP in the league. Since 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 an FBS Independent since the 2018 season, winning just seven games in that timeframe. Director of Athletics Mario Moccia has said for years that the school’s number one priority from an athletics standpoint would be to return to a conference in football.

If New Mexico State does join Conference USA, it would play in the same league as UTEP, getting the chance to be travel partners with the Miners. Separated from the rest of the league by hundreds, and in some cases, thousands, of miles, it makes sense from a geographic standpoint for the Aggies and Miners to team up in that regard.

New Mexico State and UTEP have not been in the same conference since 1961, when the Border Conference disbanded. For 60 years, the rivalry has continued as a nonconference-only bout. A return to a conference rivalry would only boost the importance of it for both schools.

With UConn joining only for football, the league would have to add other schools for sports other than football. According to The Athletic, this would be the first step of rebuilding the conference with significant resources from a combination of exit fees from departing members and entry fees from new members.

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