After reading a proclamation declaring Feb. 3 to be Lou Henson Day in New Mexico, the governor announced the naming of the Lou Henson Highway "so that his memory is forever, so it's not just one day."
"There is a beautiful, historic highway that runs through the pecan groves and onion fields of Dona Ana County," he said. "It is the original highway from Las Cruces to El Paso ... A portion of this highway is part of the historic Camino Real ... This is one of the treasures of New Mexico's highway system, and I am naming this beautiful highway the Lou Henson Highway."
NMSU President Michael Martin called it "particularly fitting" that the historic highway be named for Henson, but he quipped: "I worry a little bit about someone saying ‘Go down University and turn left onto Lou Henson.'"
It is the second road to be named for Henson, following a similar honor in Champaign, Ill., where he coached at the University of Illinois for 21 seasons before returning to NMSU. But Henson and his wife, Mary, joked that the street in Illinois is "a couple of blocks" long.
Henson, who has 779 career victories as a basketball coach, announced his retirement for health reasons last month.
"I guarantee you I didn't expect all of this," Henson told the crowd gathered at NMSU's Fulton Athletics Center for the announcement. "What really makes it nice is you, our friends, coming out today."
In announcing the capital outlay funds to help pay for a new field house, Richardson said the New Mexico State athletics program "needs a boost" as it joins the Western Athletic Conference this year.
"The university has been very good at recruiting private dollars to this program," he added. "Students agreed to raise their fees to help finance the renovation of the Pan Am Center. It's also important for the state to recognize the value of our universities, including athletic programs, so this is another step in the partnership that we're working together."
He said he would present a capital outlay package to the Legislature next week or the week after that will include "$2 million for this wonderful field house for the Aggie football team which is going to go undefeated next year."