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NMAA takes over summer training scheduling because of virus

When the calendar hits Memorial Day weekend, normally it’s the individual school districts that govern what happens with its high school sports teams for the summer months, with the New Mexico Activities Association stepping aside.

This year will be an exception.

The NMAA’s board of directors on Friday morning voted to allow NMAA staff to oversee coaching activities, and athletic directors around the state could begin to get  guidelines from the NMAA office by the end of next week, executive director Sally Marquez said.

ADs around the state voted 86-27 in favor of allowing the NMAA — for this coronavirus-infected year only — to take the lead on the summer. The NMAA is following the directives of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Whatever happens, there aren’t going to be organized workouts of any kind permitted at least until May 28 — the date of the next NMAA board meeting — and perhaps not until June.

The state’s school campuses remain closed because of the coronavirus, as they have been since March. Underclassmen are still finishing their 2019-20 academic year.

When the NMAA board next convenes, classes will be over and there should be more details  released from the NMAA about what various sports programs will and will not be permitted to do.

“I can’t guarantee that (there will be workouts allowed in two weeks) at this point,” Marquez said. “At this point, we do not know.”

Bigger picture, the NMAA also can’t yet project the fate of the fall sports come August and whether they will proceed. Marquez said, “I’m hopeful that we should know more in July.”

Schools are going to have to return to session on campus before any sports can be played in the fall. This is why spring sports had to be canceled.

ELIGIBILITY: The NMAA board on Friday also voted to give all students a clean academic slate leading into the 2020-21 school year, no matter what their standing at the end of this school year.

“Statewide, it was the best thing for everyone,” Marquez said. Usually only incoming eighth- and ninth-graders receive such a slate.

“We have some kids that do not have internet access, and some parents are refusing to do online schooling,” Marquez told the board during Friday’s teleconference meeting. “We don’t want to penalize these student-athletes at this time.”

The first marking period (six or nine weeks) is when athletes could first begin to become ineligible academically.

UP FOR DISCUSSION: Physical exams could be a potential issue over the next three months.

There are apparently two options on the table: have athletes take their physicals for this fall as they normally would; or, allow their physicals from the previous school year to extend into 2020-21.

… Coaches seem likely to have to take online courses in hazing and bullying starting this year, although this was not a voting item Friday. The NMAA would like coaches to go through yearly training.

… Rules clinics may be done exclusively online this year.

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