ADs aren't posturing to take on the governor - Albuquerque Journal

ADs aren’t posturing to take on the governor

Their phones were busy Wednesday morning.

UNM athletic director Eddie Nuñez and NMSU athletic director Mario Moccia were getting calls and texts early from media and colleagues around the country asking the simple question: Will there be football this fall in New Mexico?

Citing COVID-19 concerns, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday sent to the leadership of both state Division I/Football Bowl Subdivision universities, as well as to the state’s other universities that field varsity sports at a Division II or lower level, asking that they not proceed with their fall contact sports.

While the question was asked more times than he could count, the official answer remained consistent throughout the day.

“Unfortunately that answer is not available at this time,” Nuñez said on a lunchtime Zoom conference call with Albuquerque media.

But two things were very clear on Wednesday from both athletic directors as they tried getting on with their duties as summer workouts taking place – UNM reported Wednesday four new positive COVID-19 cases among athletes and staff, and NMSU currently has six positive cases.

First, neither AD was going to speak out against the governor’s letter.

Second, neither was anywhere close to being ready to agree with its request, either.

“We respect and understand where Gov. Lujan Grisham is coming from,” Nuñez said. “From our perspective, we will continue to do what we’ve been doing – working with the Mountain West Conference, with the NCAA trying to make sure we continue down the path we have (been on). …

“It is something we will continue to consider. As we get further along with the NCAA and the Mountain West, and when a decision (there) is rendered where football or fall sports is going, then we have an opportunity to sit down again with her office and see at that point where we go from there.”

In both cases, as broader decisions regarding college football being played this fall might be coming soon, the ADs at UNM and NMSU are more than happy to ride out the wave of attention brought on by publication late Tuesday on the Journal website of the governor’s letter and not say anything wrong before the tough decision might get made for them.

Of course, if that national decision by the NCAA or at the conference level is to go forward with fall sports, then Nuñez and Moccia, or their universities’ governor-appointed Regents, will have to decide to abide by their governor’s wishes or not.

“Our intention isn’t to come in here and say we’re going to do something to go against her purposefully or anything else,” Nuñez said. “It would be, hopefully, that we have good dialogue, good active conversations that would allow us to get, hopefully, to a place we all feel comfortable with.”

Both ADs have made clear the financial hardships they would face if they don’t play fall sports. And to that end, the conversations with the governor’s office, Nuñez said, haven’t been specific about whether they would receive relief from the state if they abide, but have made clear they could lose millions by skipping out on game contracts.

COVID UPDATE: UNM announced on Wednesday that of 106 tests total of athletes (85) and coaches/staff (21) between July 5-19, there were four new positive tests for COVID-19 – three athletes and one staff member.

UNM has been testing since late June and started summer workouts early July and has tested 225 people with six positives.

Moccia said NMSU, which has been testing since late March and started summer workouts on June 8, currently has six athletes with positive tests. Three of those are athletes who tested positive upon returning to campus from out of town and before they were allowed to resume workouts.

Both schools have those who test positive in quarantine.

One UNM positive case is wide receive Jordan Kress, who announced his positive test on social media on Tuesday, urging people to mask up and take it serious.

“Every student athlete has the right to talk about,” Nuñez said. “And he was honest. It wasn’t something that he picked up here. … We’re giving them every opportunity to come out of this on the positive side.”

Home » Sports » Featured Sports » ADs aren’t posturing to take on the governor


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Prep notes: Sandia cross country star West wins big ...
Featured Sports
Steven West was already New Mexico's ... Steven West was already New Mexico's cross country star runner this year. But last weekend, the Sand ...
2
Trout expects a motivated foe, hostile crowd in Friday ...
Boxing/MMA
At age 37, Austin Trout could ... At age 37, Austin Trout could spend time pondering the inevitable end of his long and successful com ...
3
Shaiquel McGruder's monster performance, strong finish leads UNM women ...
College
On a rainy Wednesday night with ... On a rainy Wednesday night with a late-arriving crowd, the UNM women's basketball team seemed to need a litte wakeup call in the Pit. ...
4
Sports Speak Up! Reader blasts New Mexico State's handling ...
Featured Sports
WE ALL should be quite concerned ... WE ALL should be quite concerned about how New Mexico State University coaching staff and administrators handled the aftermath of the deadly shooting incident ...
5
Emptying the Notebook: A Birima Seck appreciation article
ABQnews Seeker
UNM Lobo forward Birima Seck shoots ... UNM Lobo forward Birima Seck shoots over Western New Mexico's Isaiah White during Tuesday's game in the Pit . (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)Here are some extra ...
6
Lobos take care of business vs. Western New Mexico, ...
College
All 12 Lobos who played got ... All 12 Lobos who played got in the scoring column, including the walk-ons, and UNM cruised to remain one of the country's final 10 ...
7
Prep basketball: La Cueva girls end Volcano Vista win ...
Boys' Basketball
It was going to happen sooner ... It was going to happen sooner or later. And it finally happened Tuesday night. The Volcano Vista High School girls basketball team hadn't lost ...
8
Lobo football: Haulcy honored again; two players are leaving
College
A.J. Haulcy's standout true freshman season ... A.J. Haulcy's standout true freshman season for the New Mexico Lobos earned him another honor on Tue ...
9
UNM women brace for a different breed of 'Cats ...
College
Different bunch of Wildcats, different set ... Different bunch of Wildcats, different set of challenges. That’s what the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team will face when Abilene Christian visits ...