Lobos Relocate Teams Due to COVID-19 Concerns

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The University of New Mexico’s basketball and football programs are shifting locations as they look to proceed with seasons impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, the John B. Salvo gymnasium at Moriarty High School has become the new, temporary practice home this week for the Lobos’ men’s and women’s basketball teams, which are preparing for the start of their seasons in 20 days. The teams will practice in Moriarty, in Torrance County, as public health orders in Albuquerque won’t allow them to practice because of high case counts in their area.

Coaches for the women’s team stayed in a hotel in Moriarty Wednesday and Thursday night and the men’s coaches plan to do the same on Friday and Saturday. The teams plan to get in three practices each.

“From our perspective, we’re trying to give our student athletes – just like we did with football – we want to take the same approach and give them every opportunity, in a safe environment, to be able to practice and adequately prepare for their season ahead,” UNM athletic director Eddie Nuñez told the Journal

The UNM football team, meanwhile, announced that it will spend will spend roughly $70,000 this week to stay in Las Vegas, Nevada as the team prepares for its game against Hawaii on Saturday.

Athletic director Dave Williams said the school is comfortable with the steep cost of the stay because of the return it will see from Mountain West Conference distribution (by honoring TV contracts) – an estimate of at least $3 million – and payouts from the College Football Playoff and college bowl games – an estimate of at least $1 million.

As with the basketball team, the move to Las Vegas was necessary because of public health orders in Albuquerque that only allow practices in counties with a 14-day average daily case count of fewer than eight per 100,000 and a test positivity rate of under 5 percent.

As of Thursday afternoon, the most recent data on the New Mexico Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard show Bernalillo County’s numbers at 27.9 per 100,000 and 7.3% – easily putting it in the “Red” category.

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