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Paving the Way: Tony Sanchez becomes first Hispanic head football coach at NMSU

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KVIA) -- The New Mexico State Football program broke barriers last season - advancing to the Conference USA title game their first year in the league, playing in back-to-back bowls for the first time in 63 years and putting together a double-digit win season for just the second time ever.

Tony Sanchez has been tasked with building off that success and by doing so he is paving his own trail by becoming the first Hispanic head football coach at NMSU.

“It makes me proud and I know it’s a big deal for my family," Sanchez said.

Sanchez's paternal grandma immigrated from Puerto Rico when she was 16. While his Dad Fred was the highest ranking Latino official in the history of the Oakland Police Department.

“It’s always great to have people that you can look up to and follow and when they’re in your own home it’s even better," Sanchez said. "But you know, not every kid has that but that’s why it’s important to have people out there doing what you aspire to do, people from your background and that’s why it’s so important to have a diverse group of coaches.”

But that is something that is still lacking across college football.

According to data from the NCAA, last season 79% of FBS Division 1 head football coaches were white, 10% black, 4% Hispanic or Latino and 7% fell into another ethnicity.

That ratio is really the best it's ever been. Dating back the last decade, white males have made up at least 81% of head coaches at that level.

“Tony represents that hope factor and the vision to dream that a former minority high school coach can become a Group of Five, Division 1 football coach twice," Alonzo Carter the chair of the executive comity of the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches said. "That inspires me.”

"Wherever you come from, rich, poor, black, white, Hispanic, there’s a lot of opportunity out there and it’s not going to be easy, you’re going to have to knuckle up but again there’s a path for everybody," Sanchez said.

Sanchez may be the new guy in charge, but it's not his first rodeo with the Aggies. Sanchez spent the last two years as the wide receivers coach and going back nearly three decades he also donned the crimson and white in 1994 and 1995.

A year later he was hired as a coach and has spent the next 20 plus years honing his craft - winning six-straight high school state titles with Bishop Gorman, before making the jump to be the head coach at UNLV from 2015-19. All of it preparing him for this moment.

Sanchez will appear on a panel called 'making the jump' at the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches Convention in Las Vegas from February 16th-17th.

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Rachel Phillips


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