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Lucky draw

NMSU Foundation sponsors scholarship giveaway at basketball games

Thousands of NMSU students attend men’s and women’s basketball games each year, rooting for the highly successful Aggies in the Pan Am Center. It’s natural, given that the men’s team won this year’s Western Athletic Conference Tournament, and the women have reached the WAC title game four times since 2015 – we all love a winner.

But imagine you’re a student trying to balance books and bills, and you have a chance of winning a $1,000 scholarship just by virtue of being at the games. Talk about a bank shot.

That’s the idea behind “A Grand in the Stands,” a series of scholarships worth $1,000, created by the NMSU Foundation and awarded to seven lucky students during select men’s and women’s basketball home games.

The NMSU Foundation has continued this tradition since 2018, giving every student a chance to offset tuition costs without having to fill out the usual paperwork associated with academic or sports scholarships. “A Grand in the Stands” was originally established to award one $7,000 scholarship, but was quickly augmented to instead spread the wealth among more students by presenting seven checks worth $1,000 each.

The Board of Directors at the NMSU Foundation made it all possible as a way to support a few deserving Aggies, while also involving a wide segment of the student body in a new and upbeat way.

“Right before they called my name, I had a tingly feeling in my fingers. It was like I knew they were going to call my name,” says Alyssa Magana, a chemical engineering major. “To the NMSU Foundation, thank you for this opportunity. Because of you, I am one step closer to being an NMSU graduate.”

The scholarship registration process was designed to be simple and fast, so students can get to their seats quickly to enjoy the games. Attendance at games where the scholarships are given typically rises around 15 percent.

“It’s so fun to see all the students come up to our table to register for the scholarship, and then wait at halftime for the spinning wheel at center court to shuffle the entries around, hoping their name will be called,” says Lynn Schlemeyer, NMSU Foundation senior associate vice president for external relations. 

Since all full-time students on the NMSU Las Cruces campus are eligible, the drawing attracts students from many backgrounds and majors.

“It really electrifies the crowd when we’re about to announce the recipient,” Schlemeyer says. “When the excited winner comes down to the floor, we take their picture with a giant check and share the happy news of this $1,000 scholarship from the NMSU Foundation. It’s a win-win situation for everyone because it allows us to demonstrate a spirit of philanthropy on campus, and a lucky student gets to leave the game with a scholarship in their pocket.”

Students must be enrolled in both the fall and spring semesters, must be full-time students and must be present to win. Students must swipe their Aggie ID at the Foundation table on the south Pan Am concourse and be in their seats at halftime. Winners are chosen via a random drawing at halftime. 

“‘A Grand in the Stands’ is like a 3-point shot,” says Derek Dictson, president of the NMSU Foundation and vice president for University Advancement. “It encourages attendance by students, up to seven students can benefit from the scholarships in one year, and it demonstrates the great opportunities made possible by the NMSU Foundation.” 

Students cannot be a direct dependent of any University Advancement employee or a direct dependent of any NM State Athletics employee. Other than that, it’s a slam dunk. 

“I think this is an awesome way to encourage students to attend both the men’s and women’s basketball games, and also for the for the community to see NMSU in action, supporting students while we support our Aggies,” Magana says.

Learn more at or contribute to the fund at

Derek Dictson (left), president of the NMSU Foundation and vice president for University Advancement, and NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu prepare for the "A Grand in the Stands" scholarship giveaway.
Dictson (from left), Scott Rescigno, Arvizu and Matty Burns celebrate after Rescigno's name was selected during the "A Grand in the Stands" scholarship giveaway.


The Big Dance

With the 70-63 win over fifth-seeded UConn, the 12th-seeded Aggie men’s basketball team won its first NCAA 031922-NCAA02567-copy.jpgTournament game since 1993 on March 17 in Buffalo, New York. Redshirt junior guard Teddy Allen led the crimson and white with 37 points. Officially, this year’s victory is the first in the big dance for the Aggies since the 1970 Final Four run, because the NCAA vacated three NCAA Tournament appearances in the 1990s. 

In the second round March 19, fourth-seeded Arkansas edged the Aggies, 53-48, who were vying for their first Sweet 16 appearance since 1992. Las Cruces native and redshirt senior forward Johnny McCants recorded a team-high 16 points and 12 rebounds in his Aggie farewell.