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NMAA Ponders Cuts In Games

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Two competing money-saving options to be discussed today

With Legislative budget cuts looming next year, the New Mexico Activities Association Commission today will hear competing plans that suggest a reduction in games to high school varsity sports for the 2010-11 school year.

Neither is a formal recommendation, NMAA executive director Gary Tripp said. But the NMAA’s board of directors is expected to vote on this issue at its next meeting Dec. 3.

“So we’re going to try and get, well, not so much an endorsement, but the commission’s point of view to see if we’re on the right track,” Tripp said.

The proposals at today’s 9 a.m. meeting at NMAA headquarters in Albuquerque are discussion items only. The first comes from the NMAA itself, and includes slashing schedules in baseball, basketball, soccer, volleyball, softball, wrestling and track and field.

This plan would be an umbrella suggestion for all NMAA member schools, regardless of classification.

“Too often we as athletic administrators, we get caught trying to be reactive. The issue now is being proactive,” APS athletics director Ken Barreras said.

The second proposal comes from the state’s group of Class 5A ADs, and is geared  toward only 5A schools. It is similar, but not identical, to the NMAA’s plan. There are two distinct philosophical differences.

First, the ADs propose slicing games in all varsity sports except  football.

Second, the ADs are suggesting cutting games at lower levels beyond varsity and JV, reaching down into middle school and junior high feeder programs.

“We don’t want to cut any programs,” Clovis athletics director Brian Stacy said. “It’s strictly game limitation.”

Varsity football — a cash cow in dozens of cities and towns — is the only major team sport that would not be involved in either proposal. The NMAA plan also leaves alone golf, cross country, swimming/diving and tennis.

Despite the differences in their plans, the NMAA and the ADs are very much allies in the cause. They want to recommend one plan to the board of directors next month.

“We don’t want to muddy the waters with 20 proposals, so we’ll keep it with these two and see if we can’t come up with a compromise,” Stacy said.

Much depends on the next Legislative session which begins in January. If the state carves into education budgets, school districts must wait to see how big a hit it is before deciding what they will  — or must — do in response.

This current initiative was spearheaded, Tripp said, to demonstrate to the state’s lawmakers and Gov. Bill Richardson that the schools appreciate being left alone so far.

“If they continue to make small cuts, then we can continue to live with this for a few more years,” Tripp said.

The possible extinction of some teams in non-revenue generating sports has been contemplated, but there are variables from district to district.

“Better games than teams,” Alamogordo AD Lawrence Johnson said. “We need to engage all the kids as much as we possibly can. Middle-school programs are critical for us to exist. We don’t want to lose them. But we may have to trim them down.”

But personnel reductions may be coming down the pike.

“That’s the scary part,” Rio Rancho district AD Bruce Carver said. “We feel like we need every coach we’ve got. You don’t want to go from eight football coaches (with a stipend) to five football coaches.”

Would the proposed reduction in games for 2010-11 be enough on its own to meet expected budget cuts?

“No way,” Texico Superintendent R.L. Richards said. “It’d be far from it.”

Tripp said he wants selected district representatives in all classifications to pore over the proposals with their finance directors in order to evaluate their options.

“We’re all trying to be visionaries,” Johnson said, “and see what we can or cannot do.”

Not every district will necessarily feel the same pain, Stacy said.

Also, travel is another consideration. Schools are hunkering down, trying to find the best way to ride out an impending financial storm.

“We want something the whole state could possibly live with if we get future cuts from the state Legislators,” Tripp said. “The main thing is to get a uniform approach.”




NMAA plan
n Reduce varsity/JV baseball and softball by two games
n Reduce varsity/JV basketball by one game
n Reduce varsity track and field by one meet
n Reduce varsity soccer and volleyball by two games
5A ADs’ plan
n Reduce all baseball/softball/basketball programs by three games
n Reduce all soccer and volleyball programs by two games
n Reduce track and field/cross country by one meet
n Reduce golf by one tournament
n Reduce tennis by one match
n Reduce swimming by one meet
NOTE: Both plans include limiting varsity wrestlers to 32 matches. ADs’ plan is for 5A schools only.

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