University of New Mexico President David J. Schmidly has announced that UNM will partner with 15 other institutions for form a new intercollegiate athletic association that would begin competition in the 2013-14 academic year.
According to a press release, the new association will be built upon "the principles of enhancing the student-athlete academic and competitive experience, bringing fiscal discipline into athletics and ensuring competitive fairness."
The 15 institutions joining New Mexico include current Mountain West members Air Force, Colorado State, UNLV, and Wyoming, and future Mountain West members Fresno State, Hawai'i and Nevada. Also involved in the new association are current Conference USA members East Carolina, Marshall, UTEP, Rice, Southern Miss, Tulane, Tulsa and UAB.
UNM President David J. Schmidly was part of the weekend meetings in Dallas, Texas, and has been instrumental in the formation of the new athletic association.
"The landscape of collegiate athletics has been changing rapidly and dramatically," said President Schmidly. "UNM is excited to be part of this new association made up of like-minded institutions committed to addressing major issues in collegiate athletics such as competitive and fiscal stability and integrity. It fits well with our concept of athletics and conference affiliation."
Schmidly's comments were echoed by Vice President for Athletics Paul Krebs. "In the very dynamic landscape of intercollegiate athletics and conference realignment , this proactive move creates stability for UNM while preserving our traditional rivalries and conference partners."
Krebs added, "Further, I believe it creates some additional opportunities that can strengthen the UNM athletic program and our overall competiveness. While there are many details to be worked out, I am very optimistic about the future."
Hawai'i will be a football only member. The as-yet unnamed association will be the fifth different conference or league that the Lobos have been affiliated with. New Mexico was a member of the Border Conference from 1932-1951, the Skyline Conference from 1951-62, the Western Athletic Conference from 1962-99, and the Mountain West from 1999. UNM was a charter member of the WAC and the MW.
The new association will reunite the Lobos with former conference members UTEP, Tulsa, and Rice. While the new association will span five different time zones, the scheduling of games will still be geographical in nature, allowing for UNM to still play many of its longtime and regional rivals.
"Our alignment with Conference USA is an exciting opportunity for us and the Mountain West, moving forward," said head football coach Bob Davie. "With the potential geographical breakdowns, we can keep our old, traditional rivalries and build new ones. The potential of having a championship game is exciting for all of us involved with the new league."
The new association hopes to have an official league name announced sometime this summer. Logistical operative such as bylaws and conference governance, along with media agreements and management plans are all being finalized and will be announced later in the year.