When Scott Noble took the position of Athletic Director at WNMU, one of his top priorities was to bring baseball back to the institution. Western had a strong tradition in the sport before it was dropped in the early 90s due to Title IX requirements and budget constraints. Prior to that, baseball at WNMU had been highly successful and attracted a lot of kids from around New Mexico.
The process would not be easy as several things had to happen before baseball could be added. In order to maintain compliance with Title IX, ensuring equal opportunity for female student-athletes, women's soccer would also be added. Noble and others felt WNMU could be very competitive in that sport as well.
That meant putting artificial turf on the field at Altamirano Stadium. The existing grass would not be able to stand up to both football and soccer practices and games. Noble has worked hard to raise funds from alumni, donors, and other sources but there is still a long way to go.
In addition to hiring a coaching staff for both sports, Noble said he would also need to hire an additional trainer to meet the needs of the new sports. There would also be a need to purchase new equipment for both sports. The softball field would also have to be upgraded to meet the needs of baseball.
There would be a positive impact economically for the university and the community. Noble determined that visiting soccer and baseball teams would spend about $160,000 a year on hotels and food in our area. There would also be an impact of adding 70 student-athletes, 30 soccer and 40 baseball, to the community. Some would live off campus and make purchases from local businesses. Not to mention families that come to see their kids compete.
According to Noble, during the last two legislative sessions, funding was included in bills for the startup costs related to both programs. In this last session, Representative Rudy Martinez sponsored a bill that would have allocated $750,000 to WNMU athletics. That bill was not presented for a vote. Representative Martinez did not respond to an email request for information in time for this article to be published. Any response from Representative Martinez will be noted in a future article. In the prior session the line item for the funds was vetoed by the Governor.
Noble said he will continue to work with alumni, boosters, and legislators to raise the funding to bring these sports to WNMU.