Thirty minutes prior to Tuesday’s night’s 9 p.m. scheduled men’s basketball tipoff between the University of New Mexico Lobos and Colorado State Rams in Fort Collins, the teams were pulled off the Moby Arena court.
Larimer County (Colo.) health officials deemed there to be too much risk of potential COVID-19 exposure in the Lobos travel party for the games to be played after it was learned UNM assistant coach Scott Padgett, who traveled with the team commercially to Denver on Monday afternoon, had been in contact over the weekend with somebody who began showing symptoms back in Albuquerque on Monday night — after the team was already in Fort Collins.
That individual tested positive at 8 p.m. Monday, UNM senior deputy athletic director David Williams said.
On Tuesday, the entire Lobos travel party tested again — all negative, according to UNM athletic director Eddie Nuñez. With Padgett isolated from the team, testing negative himself and showing no symptoms, both university medical teams decided to proceed with the game between the 5-11 Lobos and 14-4 Rams.
But as both teams were already at the arena and warming up, Larimer County (Colo.) health officials nixed the game — and Thursday’s scheduled game two of the series — after deeming Padgett a presumed positive for his contact with a person who is positive.
“We do not have any symptoms right now with any current student athlete, any current coach, staff member,” Nuñez said. “Everybody is doing well.”
The games are considered postponed and may be made up at a later time. For now, UNM’s Feb. 17 and 19 games against Wyoming, which are to be played at the U.S. Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs, are still on.
The Lobos returned to their hotel Tuesday night in Fort Collins and will “reassess” the situation Wednesday morning. If all remain symptom free, the team is expected to take a bus back to Albuquerque.
Last week, the Lobos announced they were calling off a two-game series with San Diego State that was scheduled to be played in Lubbock, Texas, when the university said it was down to five healthy and available scholarship players for the series.
“It’s totally different from the standpoint of what led to the San Diego State decision,” Nuñez said when asked if there was any correlation with last week’s SDSU series decision.
“I mean, we wouldn’t have traveled to Colorado State if we would have known the situation was what it was. … At no time was the intent ever not to play this game.”
Monday, at least seven scholarship players made the trip to Fort Collins along with several walk-ons who hadn’t been traveling, and thus not practicing much with the team recently as the program has been trying to keep its travel party at a minimum to reduce risk.