ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University are longtime rivals, but are they treated equally when it comes to funding for athletics? That’s what some are asking after this last legislative session with UNM set to receive nearly twice what NMSU did.
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Every year, universities give lawmakers a list of requests for projects they’d like to see funding for from the state. Some projects get approved, others do not.
In this last legislative session, UNM asked for nearly $14 million to fund about 13 projects in the athletics department. The requests included nearly $3 million for improvements at The Pit, $2.5 million for the tennis facility and nearly $1 million for a new weight room all of the university’s athletes can use.
“Our student-athletes have really, have been working out of a tent, the majority of them. and that’s unacceptable,” said UNM Athletic Director Eddie Nunez. “This is going to have all our student-athletes working under one roof for the first time ever.”
So far lawmakers have approved funding for six of the 13 projects, including $850,000 for that weight room, $2 million for stadium lighting, and $700,000 for The Pit. While UNM isn’t getting the $14 million they asked for, they are getting more than $5 million which is about double what NMSU is set to receive. “I think a lot of times, myself and our fans, and maybe at our university, we always judge how we do from a capital standpoint to how UNM does on a capital outlay standpoint,” said NMSU Athletic Director Mario Moccia.
He chalks it up to several reasons including the number of legislators in their area. “We know that we’re kind of swimming against the tide because we have a smaller group here in Dona Ana County,” Moccia said.
Even lawmakers have noticed the disparity in funding between the two schools. Sen. Crystal Diamond says what gets funded often depends on the governor’s priority and what’s recommended by the legislative finance committee.
NMSU athletics asked lawmakers for more than $15 million to fund about eight projects including $1 million for a football scoreboard and $10 million to replace the football locker rooms which were built in the 70s.
NMSU is set to receive a little more than $2 million for new football turf and improvements to the softball facility and the university is already working on how it can get more next year.
As for New Mexico’s smaller universities, ENMU is getting state money for a rodeo facility and softball turf. Athletic projects at New Mexico Highlands and Western New Mexico University are not getting any state money.
Funding for these athletic projects is not a done deal yet. The governor still has to sign off on the requests. She can line-item veto items.