Moccia named athletic director at New Mexico State

Moccia named athletic director at New Mexico State

By Tony McDaniel

SIU athletic director Mario Moccia will be leaving for the same position at New Mexico State University.

NMSU President Garrey Carruthers made the announcement Monday at a press conference in Las Cruces, N.M.

Moccia said it was a big day for him and his family.

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“New Mexico State University is a tremendous institution,” Moccia said. “It’s an institution that has a special place in my heart, and it’s an institution that has tremendous amount of potential from an athletic standpoint.”

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports Moccia’s five-year contract with the Aggies is worth $240,000 a year, and he will take over his position Jan. 5. Moccia made $187,644 at SIU last year, according to the most recent figures available to the Daily Egyptian.

Carruthers said Moccia was hired because he is an Aggie and because of his history as a fundraiser in his previous roles.

“In all of the conversations we had with references, he seemed to stand out a little bit in terms of his ability to go out into the community to raise funds and advance the brand of athletics,” Carruthers said at the press conference.

He said Moccia was one of 40 applicants.

SIU President Randy Dunn said in a Saluki Athletics press release that the university will move forward in the next week to identify an interim athletic director pending a permanent search.

New Mexico State has been in search of an athletic director since McKinley Boston’s contract was not extended. Boston’s contract will expire Dec. 31. Boston has been the athletic director at NMSU since Dec. 14, 2004.

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Moccia, who has been the athletic director at SIU since 2006, graduated from New Mexico State in 1989. He was a member of the Aggies’ baseball team and a two-time team MVP. He was named a preseason All-American prior to his senior season. Moccia was inducted into the New Mexico State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998. He was the director of sales at NMSU before moving to Texas State University for an assistant athletic director position.

In his time at SIU, Moccia has overseen the construction of a new football, baseball and track and field complex, as well as the 2010 renovation of SIU Arena. Moccia also secured Under Armour as the official apparel sponsor for Saluki Athletics in 2012.

Moccia thanked his staff at SIU during his press conference.

“Today wouldn’t be possible without a very loyal and hardworking staff that I’m leaving behind,” he said.

Bill Powers, New Mexico State’s assistant athletic director, said the three other finalists were Ron Prettyman, Indiana State athletic director; Rory Hickok, assistant athletic director at Nevada; and Gerard Koloskie, former athletic director of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Moccia said he will focus on football and increasing attendance at New Mexico State sporting events.

SIU men’s basketball coach Barry Hinson said in a Saluki Athletics press release he is now a New Mexico State Aggies fan.

“I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen an athletic director make such an impact at the mid-major level,” Hinson said. “I will forever be indebted to Mario Moccia for giving me an opportunity to teach and be involved in young people’s lives again.”

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Aaron Graff contributed to this story.

Tony McDaniel can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @tonymcdanielDE.

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