LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) – Public health orders in New Mexico due to COVID-19 put the New Mexico State University’s men’s basketball team practice on hold. The men’s basketball program did something about that Tuesday. They packed up and relocated to Phoenix, Arizona for at least the next five weeks.
“It’s tough and I think they are very excited that they’re going to have a chance to practice and compete and we’re excited for them,” said NMSU Athletic Director Mario Moccia. The Aggies will call the Arizona Grand Resort home. The resort has everything the Aggies need, from weights to a basketball court. The resort put together a package for the Aggies that also includes free COVID-19 tests as part of the deal.
Moccia said the Aggies will test three times a week. Moccia is hoping New Mexico state health orders are more relax after five weeks so the team can return to Las Cruces. If not, the Aggies have the option of extending their deal with the Arizona Grand Resort. The Aggies are spending just under $100,000 dollars to stay for five weeks.
Moccia said the school plans to launch a few initiatives with its fan base and alumni to help offset the cost. Moccia said the next big move is to secure a venue to host home games in Phoenix. The Aggies are working on a schedule and have reached out to Grand Canyon and Arizona State. Moccia said he wants to make sure the team, at least, gets to have their yearly home and away battles against rivals UTEP and UNM.
“If I can get those four games in, the four rivalry games and some division two opponents I’ll probably feel like I’m playing with house money a little bit,” said Moccia. “We’ll see what the basketball staff comes up with.” The Aggies are hoping to play as early as next week.