New Mexico is welcoming its college sports teams back to the state.
According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, Tuesday’s memo from the New Mexico Higher Education Department eased the restrictions of the state’s COVID-19 Safe Practices for Intercollegiate Sports. Therefore, the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University are once again allowed to hold team practices and workouts in their home state. The universities still won’t be allowed to host games in New Mexico.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the update from governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office removes the 14-day quarantine for people traveling into New Mexico. However, each team will continue to test every athlete and staff member for COVID-19 at least three teams each week.
“We’ve got to keep doing our part right now,” UNM athletic director Eddie Nuñez said, according to the New Mexican. “There’s vaccines and there’s things that are coming that show us some light at the end of the tunnel, but we have to do our part. We have to give our student-athletes and all our community — the high school kids, everybody — an ability to kind of get back on out there.”
New Mexico’s college basketball teams have been out of state since November, when the COVID-19 pandemic caused New Mexico’s basketball teams to relocate to Texas and New Mexico State’s men’s team to move to Arizona. In early January, the New Mexico State women’s team joined the men in Phoenix. The UNM football team also spent the past season in Nevada.
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The New Mexico State athletic department announced Tuesday that Grisham’s new guidelines would allow the Aggies to return home.
“While home games are still not allowed to occur for the Aggies in New Mexico, it will allow Aggie athletic teams to conduct practices contingent on testing protocols which all teams have been in compliance with since the beginning of the state's guidelines,” the release reads. “NM State teams have not been able to practice in full since spring of 2020 as a result of the state's guidelines which limited practice to groups of five individuals at the university level.
“Definitive practice plans and competition schedules for the majority of the Aggies' athletic teams have not yet been unveiled, but with Tuesday's announcement it is expected those plans will be made soon.”
Nuñez said that the UNM women’s team has returned to Albuquerque, while the men will be in Utah through the weekend. The men’s team is scheduled to play “home” games against San Jose State on Thursday and Saturday at Dixie State University.
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