Often times, money can buy you friends. Look no further than the nearest fraternity or sorority on campus as a prime example of this less than surprising phenomenon. However, it appears that the enticement of millions of dollars still wasn't enough to make the New Mexico State Aggies a lifelong friend of the Sun Belt Conference.
Jason Groves of the Las Cruces Sun-News learned that the Aggies were more than prepared to throw money at Karl Benson and the #FunBelt to secure full conference membership and long term stability.
New Mexico State athletics offered a $4.4 million compensation package over a nine-year period to the Sun Belt Conference in an effort to join the league in all sports.
According to documents acquired by the Sun-News, the financial package included a travel subsidy of $2,387,618 over a seven-year period beginning in 2016-17. Travel costs were among the concerns cited since New Mexico State joined the league for football only prior to the 2014 season.
Of course, we all know by now that the 12th membership spot went to Coastal Carolina. This $4.4 million compensation package included both the entrance fee of $2 million and the travel subsidy mentioned above. So the ultimate pricetag to get NMSU into the 'Belt would've been around 15% of NMSU's annual revenues.
That's obviously a lot of cash to eat at once, so NMSU's athletic department had planned to break the payments up into annual installments. Here's Groves's breakdown of what NMSU's annual payments would've looked like.
NMSU's proposal offered to pay the entrance fee over a six-year period, beginning with the 2014-15 amount of $540,000, which has already been made as part of the school's football membership ($1.62 million), where NMSU waived conference distribution payouts.
Year/Entry fee/Olympic travel subsidy/Football travel
It looks like NMSU will continue to only be affiliate Sun Belt members in football for the foreseeable future along with former fellow WAC member Idaho. That's not exactly a great setup for those two schools, and it begs the question of whether the 'Belt will look to find two suitable replacements more within the conference's footprint in the future.
For a long time, it looked like money would always win out over geography in conference realignment. But in this case, it looks like the Sun Belt might be vying to become more compact and not turn into the next AAC. Perhaps by spending less on travel, the 'Belt will have more money to sink into building better football teams and turning up the Sun Belt Heat.