Gov. gives college football the OK - Albuquerque Journal

Gov. gives college football the OK

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Aggressive COVID-19 testing and safe practices are the keys that provide the Mountain West Conference with the confidence it can have a 2020 football season – and the announcement Friday by the governor’s office of what is required gives the University of New Mexico a chance to play, too.

The league’s presidents voted Thursday and announced later that night that the Mountain West plans an eight-game league schedule for its 12 football-playing schools with a championship game scheduled for Dec. 19.

On Friday, MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson reiterated that any return to competition is subject to state, county and local approval for each of the 12 football teams, UNM included.

Also on Friday, Nora Meyers Sackett, the press secretary for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, spelled out the conditions in a lengthy email to the Journal:

“The state has compiled a thorough set of COVID-Safe Practices and restrictions for intercollegiate athletics that UNM – and any Division I intercollegiate athletic program in the state – will have to meet in order to proceed with larger practices and games in accordance with the MWC’s plans for an 8-game season. Those required safe-practices and guidelines include but are not limited to: strict and regular testing protocols; strict mask requirements for all personnel and players except when on the field of play; capacity limits for indoor practices and trainings (such as weight room trainings); a prohibition on spectators (non-essential personnel) at practices and games; quarantine requirements for any visiting teams that the university must accommodate; a code-of-conduct document to be signed by all participating players and personnel. Universities will continue to abide by the existing restrictions and guidelines until they have submitted a proposal in accordance with these requirements to the state and that proposal has been approved.”

On the prospect of returning to football, UNM athletic director Eddie Nuñez said Friday: “It’s a great opportunity. It’s great to see our kids with the excitement and joy that they have.”

The Lobos, led by first-year head coach Danny Gonzales, began their acclimation period of workouts on Friday, Gonzales said, meaning they wore helmets and shorts and worked in small groups. They plan to work in that capacity for at least the next four training sessions and hope to gain approval to fully practice after that.

The state’s public health order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 includes guidelines for amateur contact sports and has limited groups training together to 10 at most.

The MWC announced Friday that it has partnered with Quest Diagnostics to implement testing protocols and has picked up the cost for three tests with rapid results per week.

UNM will continue with its independent testing and will then receive the Quest Diagnostics testing in a little over two weeks.

UNM has had 1,060 tests for the coronavirus this year with 17 positives, Nuñez said Friday.

He said UNM plans to test more often than the three times per week protocol that the MWC is implementing. To do so, UNM will have to cut back in other areas of its athletic budget, he added.

The Mountain West says it plans to release a 2020 football schedule soon. Nuñez said the Lobos are expected to draw the same eight opponents as set by the original 2020 league schedule, though the dates are likely to be changed.

UNM’s original schedule included home games vs. Nevada, San Jose State, Boise State and Wyoming, and games at Colorado State, Utah State, Hawaii and Air Force.

The prospect of home games, albeit without spectators, is possible “if the protocols are in place,” Meyers Sackett said in the email. “The state’s travel order permits visitors to test out of the quarantine requirement if they test negative within 72 hours of arriving in the state. Visiting teams would have to get that done before they were cleared to play – and UNM would have to get negative tests for all before being cleared to practice upon return from an out-of-state game.”

In addition, the MWC is in the process of finalizing thresholds for competition interruption, monitoring test results, and other health and safety protocols that are consistent with NCAA resocialization guidelines.

Thompson said he expects all league football schools to participate in the season but acknowledged that there could be game cancellations. With the season starting so late, there will be no game postponements, he said.

The governor’s office hasn’t been specific about the “code-of-conduct” requirement mentioned in its email – Meyers Sackett said those “expectations have been communicated to school leaders.”

“The state wants to find a way to permit these schools the opportunity to ‘opt-in’ to a safe fall season, but health and safety must be the top priority, for the state and for the collegiate institutions,” Meyers Sackett said. “If the risks surge, and if these protocols are violated, the opportunity to compete is at risk – as well as, of course, the health and safety of the athletes and school personnel.”

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

Nativo Sponsored Content

taboola desktop


Group urges revision to medical malpractice law
ABQnews Seeker
Providers say they may close over ... Providers say they may close over insurance issue
LANL director: Nuclear deterrent work spurred growth
ABQnews Seeker
Public Zoom meeting invited questions Public Zoom meeting invited questions
DOT worker, 58, killed in work zone crash
ABQnews Seeker
Vehicle struck from behind by truck Vehicle struck from behind by truck
Suspect in woman's fatal shooting stays in jail
ABQnews Seeker
The man accused of shooting Jacqueline ... The man accused of shooting Jacqueline Vigil outside of her West Side home in 2019 wil ...
Avangrid and NY firm swap allegations in separate lawsuits
ABQnews Seeker
Connecticut-based energy company Avangrid and New ... Connecticut-based energy company Avangrid and New York-based Security Limits Inc. have each filed se ...
NM reports 969 new cases, 11 deaths
ABQnews Seeker
New Mexico reported 969 new COVID-19 ... New Mexico reported 969 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday — an improvement from recent days — and 11 additional deaths. The state did see ...
Luminaria Tour returns on Christmas Eve; tickets go on ...
ABQnews Seeker
Beloved tradition continues after 2020 hiatus ... Beloved tradition continues after 2020 hiatus due to the pandemic
Deputies fatally shoot person on West Side
ABQnews Seeker
Bernalillo County deputies fatally shot a ... Bernalillo County deputies fatally shot a person Tuesday night at an apartment complex in Northwest Albuquerque. Jayme Fuller, a Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman, ...
Proposed congressional map would split Albuquerque
ABQnews Seeker
Lea County Commission Chairwoman Rebecca Long ... Lea County Commission Chairwoman Rebecca Long said it makes no sense and that 'communities of interest must stay t