UNM & NMSU Urged by Governor to Suspend Fall Contact Sports
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham sent a letter to the leadership of the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University requesting the schools to "postpone collegiate athletics in this moment of escalating danger," specifically fall contact sports such as football and soccer. Geoff Grammer of the Albuquerque Journal first reported the news Wednesday morning, along with the full letter sent by the Governor to the universities.
On July 9, Lujan Grisham announced the postponement of all high school sports until 2021. Soon after, states like California announced the suspension of fall high school athletics, while Texas recently announced on Tuesday a delayed start for the fall sports season.
Although Lujan Grisham doesn't have the power to regulate the university's sports, her letter references the rising cases in the state as the prime reason to refrain from contact sports in the state this fall. The state reported 17,517 COVID-19 cases, with 154 hospitalized and 588 total deaths.
"I know what I'm asking you to contemplate is difficult and unprecedented, but these are difficult and unprecedented times. Fighting COVID-19 is a team sport. I am asking each of you to join me and take it upon yourselves to do everything you can to fight COVID-19. Together we can protect all New Mexicans, and if we are successful, we can resume contact sports and re-engage in the camaraderie and joy they bring all of us in a safe manner as soon as we can." Gov. Lujan Grisham wrote in her letter, obtained by the Albuquerque Journal.
New Mexico and New Mexico State haven't made any decisions on the fall sports slate, according to the Journal. The two schools gave the Journal a joint statement from UNM President Garnett Stokes and UNM Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez.
“The health and well-being of our student-athletes and our Lobo community is, first and foremost, our top consideration in how we approach our fall athletic programs. Equally important is ensuring student academic success. We have been in regular communication with the Governor’s office over the past several months, and we sincerely appreciate the guidance her office has provided as we have worked on our plans for fall sports. We expect discussions with the NCAA and the Mountain West Conference to continue over the next couple of weeks as plans for the fall are finalized.”
NM State Athletic Director Mario Moccia spoke told 600 ESPN El Paso that the school is "anxious to hear from the NCAA, Power 5 and Group of 5 conferences" to hear which way they are leaning toward this. "We are in a situation that we will do what we are told to do," Moccia said.
The Lobos are set to open the football season against Idaho State on Aug. 29 while NMSU will kick off its season on Sept. 3 versus UAB. Currently, the New Mexico State football schedule is down to 10 games after the Southwestern Athletic Conference announced forgoing the fall season and the Pac-12 previously revealed a conference-only fall schedule. Texas Southern was scheduled to play the Aggies on Nov. 14 and UCLA was supposed to be the Aggies' season opener on Aug. 29.