Staff and student-athletes from the University of New Mexico athletics department, including representatives from the defunct men’s soccer program, will be participating in “UNM Day” on Monday in Santa Fe at the state legislative session.
As UNM has done in past years, according to athletic director Eddie Nuñez, they will honor teams with particularly good fall seasons (on Monday it will be the women’s cross country team and women’s soccer team) as well has have two members of each of the department’s sports be on hand along with cheerleaders and mascots.
This will include the men’s soccer team, which is caught in the middle of a battle between state lawmakers, five of whom last week sponsored a bill that calls for a one-time allocation of $2 million to UNM to reinstate four recently cut sports, including the men’s soccer team, which had its season end in the fall.
Nuñez said the deal when the elimination of men’s soccer, men’s and women’s skiing and the women’s beach volleyball teams were announced last summer was that all student-athletes would remain on scholarship through the end of their degree work at UNM and the sports as a whole would be in place and supported through the end of the fiscal year (June 30). UNM did cancel the spring season for men’s soccer, but Nuñez said it is still recognized as a team at UNM until the end of June.
The bill introduced by five House Democrats, meanwhile, is one UNM says it didn’t seek. The school has not said it plans to reinstate any teams as of yet.
On Saturday, the men’s soccer team issued a statement sent to local media, that included:
“We were surprised that UNM asked us to do this, considering that the university has voted to eliminate our team, as well as the beach volleyball and ski teams. But we recognize the importance that Lobo sports have to our community, and we want to do everything we can to make sure UNM’s student-athletes receive as much support as possible from the Legislature.
“We stand together with our fellow Lobos, and so we are happy to send two of our teammates to this UNM event. We hope that UNM, our Governor and our state legislators will find a way for our team, as well as the beach volleyball and ski teams, to have the opportunity to compete for UNM for many years to come.”
UNM men’s soccer coach Jeremy Fishbein told the Journal last week that 18 players from last year’s 4-12-1 team remain enrolled at the university and continue to train in hopes the program will be resuscitated.