The Lobo men’s basketball team relocated to Texas so it can play a basketball season.
Just not yet.
Despite UNM publicly stating for a few weeks that it would not be able to play a conference-opening road series at Boise State this week, at the advice of team doctors who asked that the team complete two full weeks of uninterrupted preseason practices before playing a regular season game, the decision to postpone the scheduled Thursday/Saturday series in Idaho was not finalized until Monday and not until school presidents had to weigh in on the matter — a rarity for such issues as scheduling.
The game was supposed to be televised on FS1 — something the network was still counting on as of Monday — and that played into the delay on postponing the series after another game scheduled that day — Colorado State at San Diego State — was already postponed due to a “pause” in activities at CSU due to a positive COVID-19 test. The league wanted at least one of the two games played due to its television deal.
A statement from the Mountain West on Monday did not give any specifics as to the details for the postponement, including if it had to do with positive COVID-19 tests on either team as has been the case with so many other college football and basketball games being cancelled or postponed of late. The postponement, the Journal has been told, has nothing to do with positive tests for either team.
A makeup date has not yet been decided on, though it could be within a couple of weeks’ time.
“We understand during COVID, things are going to be fluid and things will change constantly,” said UNM Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez. “We’re continually making decisions with the student athlete’s wellbeing first and foremost on our minds and appreciate Boise State and the Mountain West for working with us to do that here.”
Due to the public health order, the UNM men’s and women’s basketball teams have relocated to Texas in order to practice for the season as practices are prohibited in New Mexico at the moment. The men’s team bused to west Texas on Nov. 20 and has been practicing at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, since. The two-week mark for practice will be Friday.
The Mountain West on Nov. 17 announced a revamped conference schedule, shifting to a 20-game format that including five two-game road series and five two-game home series for each team in an effort to cut down on travel. UNM, at that time, was still not yet holding regular practices and had not yet relocated to Texas to do so. Nuñez said that day he was surprised that UNM — the league’s only member not yet practicing — would be in one of the two games scheduled on Dec. 3, the earliest the league has ever scheduled a conference game.
The Mountain West stated in its Nov. 17 news release, “The new format emphasizes the health and safety of student-athletes, coaches and staff while significantly reducing travel,” adding it would be played out “within the context of state, county and local guidelines.”
New Mexico’s guidelines were no secret then to Boise State or the league. Not only has the UNM football team been relocated all season to Nevada to play games, but the corresponding Boise State at UNM women’s basketball game was never even scheduled in the first place because the league and both schools knew New Mexico’s public health order restrictions wouldn’t allow it to happen. The MWC “mirrors” the men’s and women’s schedules so that when the men play a road series, the women play at the same time at home.
That Boise State/UNM women’s series was announced on Saturday as being “rescheduled” to the league’s open week starting March 1 — a week built into the schedule with no games before the conference tournament with the hopes of making up any contests lost to COVID-19 postponements.
Nuñez said in a video conference with Albuquerque media on Nov. 18 that he was “not in support” of the game being scheduled and noted then that talks had already started with the league and Boise State about finding an alternative date.
SCRIMMAGE: The Lobos did hold a closed-door, controlled scrimmage on Sunday against Division II school Lubbock Christian. Nobody from UNM will comment publicly on how the scrimmage went, though it was made clear a controlled scrimmage was not in any way considered the same as a full regular-season game.
Teams across the country regularly have closed, controlled scrimmages and even exhibition games in preparation for a season even before the NCAA-approved start to a season.