Mario Moccia returned to his alma mater on Jan. 5, 2015, as the 23rd Director of Athletics at New Mexico State University after serving for nine years as the Director of Athletics at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill.
The 1989 graduate of NM State has already created an immediate impact in under two years as Director of Athletics.
The 2015-16 athletic season was highlighted with five student-athletes being honored as All-Americans. Football sophomore Larry Rose III was selected to the Associated Press Third Team, volleyball senior Gwen Murphy was named an American Volleyball Coaches Association Honorable Mention and men’s basketball sophomore Pascal Siakam was an AP Honorable Mention as well as a first round draft pick of the Toronto Raptors. Baseball had two All-Americans as junior center fielder Daniel Johnson was named to the American Baseball Coaches Association Third Team, while pitcher Kyle Bradish was named to the Louisville Slugger All-Freshmen Team.
Following three national player of the week awards, the athletic department saw an unprecedented eight student-athletes named conference player of the year. Then, after celebrating 11 championships (regular season and/or tournament), NM State brought home its second-consecutive Western Athletic Conference Commissioner’s Cup.
Moccia led NM State into a multi-million dollar multimedia rights agreement with Learfield in 2015, a first in the history of the University. He followed that up in 2016 as he obtained a new exclusive five-year footwear and apparel contract with Under Armor. This new agreement more than doubled the University’s previous agreement.
With Moccia at the helm, the Aggies made several facility upgrades during the 2015-16 academic year. Presley Askew Field installed a state-of-the-art synthetic grass infield. In addition, the baseball stadium saw renovations to its bullpens and batting cages as well as construction of a new press box and field turf. The swimming and diving team is enjoying the new Wanda Glass Swimming and Diving Locker Room as well as new coaches offices, while Aggie Memorial Stadium received a major upgrade with the addition of Club 27.
NM State has also continued to excell in the classroom since Moccia took the reigns as all athletics teams surpassed an Academic Progress Rate of 930. Two teams, women’s golf and women’s tennis, achieved a perfect 1,000 APR.
In May of 2015, members of the Minority Opportunities Athletic Association (MOAA) elected Moccia the President of the Association. Moccia is currently serving a two-year term that began immediately following the Association’s June Symposium. The MOAA includes 600+ minority athletic administrators nationwide and advocates for increased participation and administrative opportunities for minorities in athletics.
Moccia was named an Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year in 2013 by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) at SIU as he directed the program to new heights.
He played an important role in a major fundraising/capital improvement project to build a new football stadium, a new athletic support building and to renovate the university’s basketball arena. He also negotiated media rights, footwear and apparel contracts.
Additionally, the Salukis were successful across the board during Moccia’s tenure, winning conference championships in football, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s golf, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s tennis, softball, men’s and women’s track, and women’s swimming and diving.
Moccia is active in the intercollegiate athletics community, serving as the Sun Belt Conference representative to the Division IA Board of Directors.
He has also served on the NCAA Division I Championships/Sports Management Cabinet, was the FCS representative for the NCAA’s Administration Committee and served as liaison to Men’s Basketball Committee.
Moccia was previously the Associate Athletic Director for External Operations and then Senior Associate Director of Athletics at the University of Missouri from 1998-2006. He also worked as the Associate Athletics Director for External Operations at Texas State University from 1997-1998 and Director of Sales/Lobo Club assistant director at the University of New Mexico from 1993-1997.
A member of the US Bank New Mexico State Hall of Fame inducted in 1998, Moccia was the captain of the Aggie baseball team. He was twice honored as the Aggies MVP and won a team triple crown (leader in batting average, home runs and RBI). He was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 1989 Major League Baseball draft, and played two seasons in the Tigers minor league system before entering athletic administration.
In addition to his bachelor’s degree in psychology from NM State, Moccia was awarded a master’s degree in sports administration from the University of New Mexico in 1993. Moccia and his wife, Heidi – a former All-American women’s soccer player at UMass – are the parents of two children, Addie and Gemma.