COVID restrictions
Evan Gilyard (with the ball) and New Mexico State are in a battle with New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham over COVID-19 restrictions hampering the Aggies 2020-21 season preparations. Courtesy Kathryn Herrin/UVU Athletics.

Health Restrictions Hindering New Mexico State’s 2020-21 Preparations

Health restrictions all over the country due to COVID-19 are creating some controversial issues. The restrictions are in place because the health and safety of individuals is of the utmost importance. However, for the New Mexico State men’s and women’s basketball teams, the restrictions in their home state are causing some issues.

According to the Las Cruces Sun News, the Aggies are one of only four Division I basketball teams in the country unable to practice due to state restrictions. In fact, the New Mexico State men haven’t held a practice since Oct. 15.

The article goes on to specify some of the issues facing the Aggies. 

In order to practice or compete, the state says that a team must be in a county with a 14-day average daily case count of less than eight per 100,000 and a test positivity rate of under 5 percent. Doña Ana county currently dwarfs those numbers with 57.9 cases per 100,000 and a test positivity rate of 16.6 percent.

“It’s been an interesting time for all of us,” head coach Chris Jans said during last week’s WAC Media Day. “We talk about adversity a lot in sports, and a big ole pile of adversity has been placed right in front of us, if you will. We’re trying to work through that and continue to get better even though it’s frustrating.”

The Albuquerque Journal presented some numbers regarding this same situations.

At NMSU, the women’s basketball team has had zero positive tests out of 148 since late August and the men’s team has had 2 positives out of 175. That’s a combined basketball positivity rate of 0.62%.

The article also goes on to state there was a heated call with the Governor and NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu.

Last week, after a proposal to “bubble” its Aggies basketball teams in vacant on-campus housing, its practices were shot down by Lujan Grisham in what the Journal learned was a heated call with NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu.

And according to a tweet from the Las Cruces Sun-News, the New Mexico State Board of Regents will meet Tuesday to discuss athletics. 

Restrictions on Travel Impacting the Schedule

According to the New Mexico social distancing and travel restrictions, anyone traveling from a high-risk state “must physical separate from others in a residence or place of lodging for at least 14 days from the date of their entry into New Mexico or the duration of their presence in the state, whichever is shorter.”

According to the public health order, all “mass gathers” are hereby prohibited under the powers and authority set forth in the Public Health Act. 

A “mass gathering” means any public gathering, private gathering, organized event.

The health order goes on. Other parts include “any organized amateur contact sport or other grouping that brings together more than ten individuals.”

And these restrictions are causing issues with regard to a non-conference schedule. Both the Aggie men and women have yet to release a full schedule. Yes, the WAC schedule was released two weeks ago. However, that may be in jeopardy with the quarantine restrictions in place for anyone traveling to New Mexico. 

“With a smile,” New Mexico State women’s basketball coach Brooke Atkinson said when asked how the Aggies are adjusting to the restrictions. “Just doing what we can do the best we can. We just kind of talked about, as a group, it sucks, yep. But, we just have to control what we can control …  and they can control their effort and energy.”

According to men’s basketball head coach Chris Jans, his team is not happy with what is happening.

“They don’t like it,” Jans said. “They’re frustrated. Our level of frustration is pretty high right now, from the top down. They (players) want to get after it. They want to compete. And they want to get better and do the things that we’ve done around here.”

The Aggie men are the favorites to win the WAC in 2020-21. Meanwhile the women are in the middle of the pack in the WAC. But, with COVID-19 restrictions in place, who knows if the Aggies will be able to compete at all.

About the author

Kyle McDonald

Love everything about WAC Hoops so decided I wanted to write more about it and cover this amazing conference that just keeps getting better. Follow us on Twitter @wachoopsdigest for information, game analysis and much more.

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