Last Word On Basketball

New Mexico Lobos Follow Rival NMSU, Relocate Basketball Programs

ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO - DECEMBER 17: Head coach Paul Weir of the New Mexico Lobos reacts during his team's game against the the Grand Canyon Lopes at Dreamstyle Arena - The Pit on December 17, 2019 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Lobos defeated the Lopes 91-71. (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)

The New Mexico Lobos have followed the path of their in-state rival. The men’s and women’s basketball programs will be relocating to Texas.

New Mexico Lobos Move Men’s and Women’s Basketball Programs to Texas

On Wednesday, New Mexico Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez announced that the men’s basketball team will stay in Lubbock, Texas.  The program is finalizing a contract with a West Texas junior college to use the school’s facilities.

Nunez told the Albuquerque Journal, “As long as we’re doing what we’re capable of doing from the health and safety side—first and foremost—then we’re going to continue down this path.”

The decision to move across state borders comes on the heels of New Mexico State’s relocation announcement on Tuesday. The Aggies men’s basketball team will be practicing at the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa to prepare for the season. New Mexico State was the first NCAA Division I men’s basketball program to make a similar move.

Apparently, the Aggies and Lobos can finally agree on something during their long heated rivalry. Both schools made the choice to transfer their practices to neighboring states because of the tight restrictions New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has placed on the state. There has been a troubling increase in overall COVID-19 cases and related deaths that has burdened many New Mexico communities.

Taking it Week to Week

Like the Aggies, all Lobos players, coaches, and staff will be tested for COVID-19 three times per week. However, UNM athletics have generally maintained low positivity rates in comparison to the state’s results. Nuñez, as he has made clear throughout the pandemic, prioritizes the health and safety of the school’s athletic programs. He plans to take the teams’ schedules week to week so the squads are safe. This enables them to prepare for their respective seasons and act quickly if there’s an outbreak within the circle. Or if New Mexico’s restrictions loosen and the teams can return home for practices and games.

Per the governor’s health order, New Mexico college athletics haven’t been able to participate in full practices, host home games within the state, or schedule non-conference opponents. Nuñez already relocated the New Mexico football team to Nevada over two weeks prior.

For the time being, the Lobos are searching for lower-level Texas teams to scrimmage. Both the Aggies and Lobos can only hope that the governor and their respective conferences can offer some litheness in scheduling at the turn of the year.

In 2021, the players deserve to play, the coaches deserve to coach and the fans deserve some sort of regularity and optimism after a tumultuous year. Sports can always serve as a cure.

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