BELEN—Belen Consolidated Schools intends to file a protest Friday, Sept. 15, seeking to have a “first strike” removed from the Belen football program after a scuffle with Valley which ended the game Sept. 8.
Originally, the New Mexico Activities Association gave Belen and Valley both a first strike under the new “2 Strike” bylaw and ordered the schools to forfeit a game. On Thursday, Sept. 14, six days after the game and three days after their initial decision, the NMAA reversed part of its decision after reviewing additional game film.
The association decided Valley will not have to forfeit an upcoming game, but the forfeit Belen faced will stand.
According to Lawrence Sanchez, superintendent for Belen Consolidated Schools, the protest letter will be sent Friday morning to the NMAA.
“(Belen Board of Education) member Jim Danner requested that I contact the district lawyer to see what legal remedies the district may have. The district is asking for the removal of the first strike from Belen football,” Sanchez told the News-Bulletin.
After getting information about the district’s legal options, Sanchez said he shared them with Aubrey Tucker, the board president.
From there, the district decided to file a protest.
“We are asking that our lawyer request a copy of the film the NMAA used to make the decision to suspend all Belen kids and not all Valley kids,” Sanchez said.
The superintendent said BCS was “OK” when both teams were given forfeits, but “now that Valley is going to be allowed to play the next game and Belen is not, that’s why the district is protesting this.
“When we felt that both teams were being treated equitably, we supported it.” But now, “we wanted to state our concerns to the (NMAA) board of directors about the implementation of who gets to play and who doesn’t. We still support the NMAA.”
Sanchez said the district decided against seeking a preliminary injunction to be allowed to play the forfeited game because the time frame was compressed. The Eagles’ forfeited game at Deming was scheduled for tonight and with homecoming set for next week followed by district play, going to court wasn’t practical.
“We’d like to discuss with the NMAA how the rules were applied and see the evidence of how they applied the rules, just ask questions, so we can learn from this experience what exactly is expected of us,” the superintendent said.
When contacted Friday morning, an NMAA spokesman declined to comment on the pending protest.
Mike Powers spent more than 40 years as a television news and sports anchor, mostly in the Albuquerque market. He has won numerous awards including New Mexico Sportscaster of the Year. He covers a wide range of sports, including the Valencia County prep scene.