SANTA FE (KRQE) – A new bill could change how New Mexico colleges recruit athletes.
An Albuquerque lawmaker wants colleges like the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University to stop giving so many of their athletic scholarships to out of state high school students and start giving more of them to New Mexico kids.
Charles Owen manages New Mexico Look, a sports store near UNM dedicated to the state’s athletics.
“It’s something that we can take a lot of pride in. Our sports teams are very competitive,” said Owen.
However, that competitiveness could be in jeopardy, according to Owen.
A New Mexico lawmaker wants to pass a bill that would limit the number of out of state athletic scholarships New Mexico colleges could give out.
“I want us to compete with the rest of the states on an even playing field,” said Owen.
Right now at least 25 percent of all sports scholarships at places like UNM, NMSU and ENMU must go to New Mexicans.
Republican Representative Jimmie Hall of Albuquerque has proposed a bill this legislative session that would increase that double that number to at least 50 percent.
“I just think New Mexico youth ought to be given a fair opportunity to compete,” said Hall.
Hall said not enough local kids are rewarded for their athletic abilities.
He said too often universities search for out-of-state talent when they should look in state.
KRQE News 13 asked Hall if the bill could have a negative effect on New Mexico sports programs.
“I won’t discuss whether I think it would make New Mexico collegiate athletics more or less competitive,” said Hall. “I just don’t think New Mexico youth in total aren’t getting a fair shake.”
“You’re cutting yourself out from a lot of talented athletes from across the country,” said UNM student Damien Williams.
“If we are starting to eliminate the amount of athletes we can get from other places, it’s just going to lower the overall quality,” said UNM student Nicolas Garcia.
UNM’s basketball team has four in-state players on its 20 player roster.
There are about 20 New Meixcans on the Lobo football team. That’s out of about 100 players.
KRQE News 13 reached out to UNM’s Athletic Department to get its opinion on the bill. A spokesperson said they try to recruit as many of the best New Mexico athletes as they can.