As conference officials contemplate how college athletes can safely return to sports, one public official is stepping in to take preemptive action.
In a letter obtained by the Albuquerque Journal, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham asked New Mexico and New Mexico State to suspend fall sports as COVID-19 cases spike, particularly among people between 20-39, across the Land of Enchantment.
“It is therefore critical that you postpone collegiate athletics in this moment of escalating danger,” Lujan Grisham wrote. “This is an essential step we must take if we are to return to some safe and balanced new normal as quickly as possible.”
The letter continues: “I know what I am asking you to contemplate is difficult and unprecedented, but these are difficult and unprecedented times. Fighting COVID-19 is a team sport. I am asking each of you to join me and take it upon yourselves to do everything you can to fight COVID-19. Together we can protect all New Mexicans, and if we are successful, we can resume contact sports and re-engage in the camaraderie and joy they bring all of us in a safe manner as soon as we can.”
New Mexico, a member of the Mountain West Conference, has already had a fall date with USC canceled. New Mexico State is in an even trickier position as an FBS independent. Coached by Doug Martin, a Kentucky quarterback in the early 80s, two of the Aggies’ games have been canceled so far.
The move made by New Mexico’s governor serves as a reminder for football fans across the country. Even if conference commissioners give teams the green light to play college football this fall, each school must receive clearance from their state’s governor first.