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NMSU & UNM bracing for showdown with Gov.
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CrimsonPhantom Offline
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NMSU & UNM bracing for showdown with Gov.
Quote:For decades, November in New Mexico for so many has meant college basketball.

In good times and bad, the support the state has shown for Lobos and Aggies basketball has been undeniable.

But, as with so many things in 2020, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench into what we once knew.

With just two and a half weeks before the 2020-21 NCAA basketball season is set to begin, it now appears the coming days will lead to a showdown between Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, whose public health order prevents teams from even practicing in groups larger than five, and the leadership of the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University.

After Oregon’s governor last week allowed Portland and Portland State to practice, UNM and NMSU remain as the only two of 357 men’s Division I programs not being allowed to practice due to state jurisdictional health orders. (Some have paused practices for positive tests on the team or conference decisions).

“What other states are doing is their business,” said Tripp Stelnicki, Communications Director for Lujan Grisham. “I wouldn’t say any state in the country right now is an exemplar of keeping people healthy and alive. We’re going to keep working on it here.”

At stake are the obvious health concerns the order is designed to help mitigate, but also the prospect of millions of dollars in lost revenue that could jeopardize the chance for the schools’ Olympic sports to play in the spring. Both schools have strict testing and health protocols in place approved by their own medical experts and, previously, the Governor’s Office before recent spikes in cases changed that.

The Journal has learned that neither UNM nor NMSU feel if they decide to play it would be as a move of defiance of the Governor’s health order. And they certainly aren’t trying to invite a potentially embarrassing episode of authorities having to shut down a practice if they proceed with them. Rather, “We feel we’re on solid ground,” one university source said, with their existing testing and health protocols to proceed in a safe manner for the players, coaches and surrounding communities, even if the public health order doesn’t spell out a way for them to do so.

UNM has already relocated its football team to Nevada to circumvent the public health order and housed its basketball teams in a hotel in Moriarty for a few days in the past week to get in practices in at a high school in “green” Torrance County. UNM thought the COVID cases numbers are low enough in Torrance County to allow for practices, though the Governor’s Office has since said traveling to a “green” county just to practice is not allowed.

Last week, after a proposal to “bubble” its Aggies basketball teams in vacant on-campus housing, its practices were shot down by Lujan Grisham in what the Journal learned was a heated call with NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu.

NMSU practiced at least once in the past week anyway, the Journal has learned.

On Oct. 14, the NCAA opened basketball practice, allowing teams to get in 30 full practices over the 42-day build-up to the season. UNM and NMSU each practiced for one or two days before the state’s new public health order was imposed, overriding a “COVID-Safe Practices for Intercollegiate Sports” guideline that had allowed them to practice if case counts in their counties didn’t soar above certain levels — which they have in Bernalillo and Doña Ana Counties.

Now, NMSU has called for a “special meeting” of its Board or Regents for Tuesday with one action item on the agenda: “NMSU Athletics — Preparing to compete in the WAC.”

NMSU, and UNM could be forced into some tough decisions, that include three general options:

■ The schools adhere exactly to the existing public health order, essentially shutting down their basketball seasons, since practices or games in groups larger than five aren’t allowed and out-of-state travel requires 14-day quarantine periods upon return;

■ The Governor’s Office agrees to carve out an exemption that allows them to practice as long as stringent testing and other health protocols remain in place;

■ The schools go forward, skirting, at least in part, the public health order by proceeding to practice and play under their own health plans, potentially forcing Lujan Grisham to decide if a national story with police shutting down practices would be worth it. Or, this option could include some form of relocating out of state, either for the entire season or to play games and return home for practices.

All of this is happening with the virus growing more deadly in New Mexico, like most of the country. Saturday, the state reported 1,287 new cases, pushing the seven-day average of new cases over 1,000 for the first time. There were 19 new deaths reported, and hospitalizations continue to an alarming increase with 77% of hospital beds in the state, and 80% of ICU beds, now occupied.

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11-08-2020 03:32 PM
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Lopes87 Online
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RE: NMSU & UNM bracing for showdown with Gov.
This isn't a great look. I mean if the Gov of Washington is cool with all the college athletics departments playing while managing safe covid protocols NM should be able to figure out a way to allow it as well, just as long as it doesn't go the route Oregon is going right now which is nothing below D1 can play. For goodness sakes Seattle/Kirkland was a hot spot at one point so if any state in the WAC should be gun-shy it shouldn't be NM.
11-08-2020 07:46 PM
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CrimsonPhantom Offline
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RE: NMSU & UNM bracing for showdown with Gov.
(11-08-2020 07:46 PM)Lopes87 Wrote:  This isn't a great look. I mean if the Gov of Washington is cool with all the college athletics departments playing while managing safe covid protocols NM should be able to figure out a way to allow it as well, just as long as it doesn't go the route Oregon is going right now which is nothing below D1 can play. For goodness sakes Seattle/Kirkland was a hot spot at one point so if any state in the WAC should be gun-shy it shouldn't be NM.

49 states have figured it out. No reason NM can't.
(This post was last modified: 11-08-2020 11:25 PM by CrimsonPhantom.)
11-08-2020 11:24 PM
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NMSUPistolPete Offline
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RE: NMSU & UNM bracing for showdown with Gov.
Well, consider the State of New Mexico to be similar to Chicago State at the onset of the corona virus. Last February, Chicago State stopped its travel before everyone else. If we don't get control of this virus soon (via physical health measures... national masked wearing, social distancing, etc.... or through a vaccine), I don't see how this basketball season can make it to its' normal completion (the NCAA Tournament). The virus is growing exponentially right now. And, with a leadership change coming this January, we might not be in the right viral environment for any school to complete its season. It is very frustrating because I truly want to see an Aggie basketball season. But I also understand the State's concerns... even if it appears to be too restrictive at this moment in time.
11-09-2020 03:42 AM
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CrimsonPhantom Offline
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RE: NMSU & UNM bracing for showdown with Gov.
Quote:As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to surge in the state and across the country, college athletes at New Mexico’s five Division I and II universities are making a formal plea to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to let their body of work in adhering to safe protocols allow them to do what most colleges in 49 other states are being allowed to do.

The presidents and vice presidents of the Student Athlete Advisory Committees (SAAC) at the University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University, Eastern New Mexico University, New Mexico Highlands and Western New Mexico University drafted a three-page letter and sent it to Lujan Grisham on Monday morning.

“Restrictions on athletic activity simply based on community positivity rates and COVID-19 spread is not indicative of our institutions’ athletics caseload,” the letter states.

The letter, which the Journal obtained a copy of and can be read in its entirety at the bottom of this article, indicated it was drafted to represent a “collective and unified group of student-athletes” with the intention to “propose considerations for future flexibility towards practice and competition policies as well as protocols regarding our health and safety.”

The letter makes clear two main points: It is not asking to not be tested in order to practice or play games, and it is not turning a blind eye to or diminishing the grim reality of what COVID-19 is doing to people around the state of New Mexico and country. Positive spreads on a team, all agree, lead to the same standard shut downs, quarantine efforts and other protocols that are aimed at stopping the spread of the virus as promptly, and safely, as possible.

“We appreciate the caution that the Governor is putting forth with all of this,” said Katharine Harston, NMSU swimmer and SAAC President as well as the SAAC representative for the entire Western Athletic Conference. “We know how safe everyone needs to be right now to get this under control, but we believe that we’ve done that so far and we believe that we can provide safe environments on our campuses.”

College sports in New Mexico, at the moment, are essentially being shut down from even holding full team practices through no fault of their own testing numbers.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1516220/lette...ility.html

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11-09-2020 10:02 PM
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CrimsonPhantom Offline
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RE: NMSU & UNM bracing for showdown with Gov.
In short: Today was nothing but a show trial that resulted in nothing happening.






















11-10-2020 10:00 PM
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