NMSU Basketball Teams Will Relocate Out of New Mexico
The wait is over for NMSU men's and women's basketball programs. After weeks of uncertainty surrounding practice and hosting games at the Pam Am Center in Las Cruces, the Aggies will move out of the state for the remainder of 2020. The university is considering all of their options, which currently include Tucson, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and the Midland/Odessa area.
NMSU Director of Athletics Mario Moccia was optimistic that his men's and women's programs would be able to bubble up and practice at the Pan Am Center in anticipation of their 2020-21 basketball season. The university's Board of Regents voted 5-0 to allow the teams to stay at campus housing with rigorous COVID testing and practice at the Pan Am Center as long as they complied with the state's public health order. Apparently, the NMSU Regents were unaware of the fact that New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has prohibited this since the start of the fall semester.
"There are no exceptions to the state public health order, and violations of it will result in consequences," Nora Meyers Sackett, Press Secretary for Governor Grisham told Geoff Grammer from the Albuquerque Journal.
Moccia was in contact with Brian Kennedy from the El Paso Coliseum about relocating to El Paso and using their facility as a practice court. However, the NMSU Board of Regents shot down that idea due to the abnormally high number of positive cases in the Sun City. Now, the Aggies are considering other options to move their basketball teams, which include Tucson, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and even the Midland/Odessa area. Grammer believes that Phoenix is the frontrunner, and they could possibly work out a deal with Grand Canyon University, who also plays in the WAC.
The Lobos are rumored to be headed to Las Vegas to relocate their basketball teams. Instead of The Pit and Pan Am Center, the two teams could play their rivalry games in Vegas or Phoenix. The bottom line is that college basketball is trying to play their season without using a bubble. Every other major indoor sport has done the opposite. It remains to be seen how many non-conference games will be played before the beginning of next year. In the meantime, expect plenty of postponements, cancelations, and last minute substitutions to the college basketball schedule as every Division 1 program tries to navigate through this pandemic.