ENMU mulling Rocky Mountain invite

Rick White

PORTALES — As the only non-Texas or non-Oklahoma school, Eastern New Mexico University spends long hours traveling around the Lone Star Conference.

Not much would change if ENMU accepted an invitation to join the Colorado-heavy Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference for the 2012 season.

“We’ve been a member of the Lone Star Conference for 25 years, but we also have to keep our options and look at it,” said ENMU athletic director Jeff Geiser, who spent 23 years as a head football coach and athletic director at RMAC member Adams State (Colo.)

The RMAC, which includes New Mexico’s other two Division II schools, New Mexico Highlands and Western New Mexico, has also invited Colorado College and Blackhill State in South Dakota to join the conference in hopes of creating a 16-team league.

Geiser said in his opinion the only way joining the RMAC could work for Eastern would be to have two divisions.

“The bottom line is we’d have to reduce travel costs,” Geiser said. “We’re in a tough situation either way given our geographics.”

The school has formed a committee to study the feasibility of changing conference affiliation, Geiser said. Cost, competition, travel and impact on recruiting are the primary factors that will be studied by the committee, he said.

ENMU has had limited success in competing for LSC titles, especially in the last 10 years.

Geiser said Eastern is more in line with RMAC schools in terms of enrollment and funding than the Lone Star Conference.

“Texas is pumping a lot of money into their universities,” he said. “We either need to pump more money into our programs or be resigned to finishing in the lower echelon of the conference.”

Greyhounds football coach Mark Ribaudo said he’s comfortable leaving the decision on which conference to play in to the president and athletic director.

“There’s always pluses and minuses to anywhere you are at in the country. The way I see it, it is my job is to graduate players and win games, wherever we decide to go.”

Geiser said he is a committee member but will not have a vote because of his past affiliation with the RMAC.

“I want to make sure there isn’t any appearance of impropriety as far as pushing ENMU in that direction,” Geiser said. “This decision is going to impact the school for a long time.”

Geiser said the committee will make its recommendation to President Steven Gamble by March 31.