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Lobo soccer parents, players ask for promise of spring

The players and parents of the University of New Mexico men’s soccer team on Tuesday sent Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez a letter asking that their spring season be promised to them, even if their future beyond that is not.

The team is one of four Lobos sports, along with women’s beach volleyball and the men’s and women’s ski teams, that the UNM Board of Regents voted over the summer to eliminate after the current school year.

When the regents approved a plan on the sports to be cut, UNM administrators said the sports would be fully supported through their final season and their elimination would officially take effect July 1, 2019.

So what does that actually mean for any potential offseason activities — activities normally geared at preparing for a next season, that, at least for now, isn’t scheduled to come?

“We request confirmation that UNM will provide everything that it and other Division I programs provide during the winter/spring, including 1) regularly scheduled training sessions (field and weight room) beginning the opening week of classes; 2) three full-time professional coaches; 3) five match dates against top intercollegiate and/or professional competition; 4) certified training staff and related medical services; and 5) academic advising and support,” the letter states.

The 2018 men’s soccer regular season ends Nov. 3 with the Conference-USA Tournament to follow.

The spring season, for fall sports like soccer and football, is generally used to prepare for the following regular season. With no regular season in the fall of 2019 guaranteed, does UNM move forward with a full spring routine?

“My focus right now continues to be to fully support these student-athletes for the fall season at hand, meaning the season they are in right now,” said Nuñez. “Those other decisions beyond that will officially be made once the fall season is completed.”

For all the sports, and men’s soccer in particular, there has been political promises from several lawmakers that financial assistance will come in the spring legislative session to save the teams, but UNM for now is standing by the summer decision and the premise that the sports will be gone.

The problem at play is the realization that if the sport is going to be eliminated, players at some point will want to transfer to another program. If there isn’t a spring season offered at UNM, some players who might otherwise stick around to wait out the 2019 Legislative Session, to see if funding indeed saves their sport, will likely instead decide to transfer at the winter semester break to play spring soccer at their new program.

“The UNM Regents announced that the men’s soccer program would be eliminated effective July 1, 2019,” the letter states. “… UNM has already broken one promise to these players by eliminating the program, and we certainly hope that it does not intend to break another.”

The letter asks UNM to provide an answer to the concerns about the spring season within one week.

BEER FOR SPORTS: There will be a beerfest fundraiser Nov. 10 at Civic Plaza to help the sports being eliminated at UNM.

Jamie Schweback, the general manager of Canteen Brewhouse, and Danielle Ebaugh, President of Women Rise Albuquerque, organized the “Save the Endangered Lobo” event that will feature local breweries and wineries, live music and other vendors with proceeds going to the teams scheduled to be eliminated at UNM.

More information can be found online at SaveTheEndangeredLobo.com.

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