LAS CRUCES — The New Mexico State football team already faced a difficult road opponent in Sun Belt favorite Appalachian State on Saturday.
A faulty aircraft by charter service Allegiant Air has made it even more challenging.
The Aggies charter has been delayed at Wichita Falls, Texas. NMSU will not leave Wichita Falls until 10 p.m., central and will not arrive at their hotel in Hickory, N.C., until approximately 2:30 a.m. on Saturday, 12 hours before kickoff in Boone, N.C., — after another hour long bus trip on gameday.
"This is not necessarily aligned with what we are trying to do this year," NMSU athletics director Mario Moccia said.
The NMSU travel party was told they would leave Wichita Falls at 10 p.m., on Friday, landing in Winston Salem, N.C., at approximately 1 a.m., and bus to Hickory.
Aggies head coach Doug Martin said the Aggies will forego team meetings on Friday and hold abbreviated team meetings on Saturday before leaving for another hour-long bus ride to Boone, N.C.
"Traveling from our place is hard to begin with," Martin said. "We have a really mature football team. I just told them there is nothing we can do about this and to just have fun with it, and laugh about it but focus. They will handle it as far as the focus part, I believe."
The charter aircraft was late to El Paso International Airport from Las Vegas due to mechanical issues that were repaired, Moccia said. Due to renovations on El Paso's main runway, the NMSU flight was forced to leave from a shorter runway, which led to the need to stop for a re-fuel in Wichita Falls.
NMSU made it for the 1-hour, 30-minute flight to Wichita Falls, re-fueled and took off, but 30 minutes in the air and the plane was turned around for difficulties with the aircraft's navigation equipment, Moccia said.
Allegiant sent for another aircraft from Las Vegas, but NMSU was told it would not arrive in Wichita Falls before later tonight.
NMSU de-planed in Witchita Falls around 3:30 p.m., central, forcing Aggies players, coaches and the rest of the travel party to wait for a second aircraft.
Moccia said there have been no conversations regarding delaying kickoff on Saturday. An Appalachian State spokesperson confirmed delaying kickoff has not been discussed as of Friday evening.
NMSU chartered with Swift Air last year and Allegiant this year. The University is limited by its budget in choosing the quote that the athletics department can afford.
"We all know that air travel has issues and it's frustrating whether you are an individual or a football team," Moccia said. "There are already enough obstacles with New Mexico State athletics before another one has piled on."
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