ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The New Mexico Lobo’s football team could have a season this fall. Their first game is expected to be in about a month. There is still a lot of work to be done if the Lobos want to practice or play without violating the public health order. There’s even a chance the Lobos could have some home football games.
The goal for New Mexico is to work with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office to get to host some games. “I’m not going to sit here and say if it happens if it doesn’t. We’ve put together some unbelievable plans, not just form our institution, but the Mountain West. We’re working with the governor’s office and getting their expectations as well. Some of their expectations we are ahead of the game,” said UNM Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez.
Right now, the public health order restricts the practice of any sport to groups of ten people. The health order also does not allow for live sporting events. The University of New Mexico has been in contact with the governor’s office all week about playing the eight-game season starting October 24. The governor’s office wants all players and staff to sign a code of conduct document that they would adhere to like pro sports have with the “bubble” concept.
The Mountain West is requiring teams to test athletes and staff three times a week. The conference is picking up 100% of the cost. “We’ve been working on this for months now and trying to figure out a way. The biggest key in all of this has been our relationship with Quest Diagnostics and getting the three rapid testing antigen test for each campus,” Craig Thompson, Mountain West Commissioner, said.
Any player testing positive would have to be isolated from the rest of the team for at least 10 days. Any games canceled due to a COVID-19 outbreak will not be made up.
The State’s response to KRQE’s question if the governor would entertain any home football games with no fans if they are following the Bubble system:
The governor’s administration has been in regular contact with UNM all this week in anticipation of the decision announced by Mountain West leaders last night and has compiled a thorough set of COVID-Safe Practices and restrictions for intercollegiate athletics. UNM – and any Division I intercollegiate athletic program in the state – will have to meet in order to proceed with larger practices and games in accordance with the MWC’s plans for an 8-game season.Press Secretary Nora Meyers Sackett – Office of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham
Those required safe-practices and guidelines include but are not limited to: strict and regular testing protocols; strict mask requirements for all personnel and players except when on the field of play; capacity limits for indoor practices and trainings (such as weight room trainings); a prohibition on spectators (non-essential personnel) at practices and games; quarantine requirements for any visiting teams that the university must accommodate; a code-of-conduct document to be signed by all participating players and personnel. Universities will continue to abide by the existing restrictions and guidelines until they have submitted a proposal in accordance with these requirements to the state and that proposal has been approved.
The state wants to find a way to permit these schools the opportunity to “opt-in” to a safe fall season, but health and safety must be the top priority, for the state and for the collegiate institutions. If the risks surge, and if these protocols are violated, the opportunity to compete is at risk – as well as, of course, the health and safety of the athletes and school personnel.
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