The New Mexico Activities Association has announced the cancelation of the rest of the spring sports season and the state spirit championships following the New Mexico Public Education Department announcing all of the schools will shift to learn-at-home models due to the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak across the state.
“Based on the recent directive from the New Mexico Public Education Department that schools will close for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year, the NMAA and its Board of Directors have canceled the 2020 State Spirit Championships, the 2020 Spring Sports Season, and all remaining activities for the current school year, “ the NMAA said in a release.
Initially, the NMAA had announced the suspension of all activities through at least Wednesday, April 1, when the board of directors was scheduled to meet again to determine the next steps in advance of the planned re-opening of the schools on April 6.
With PED announcing that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham will sign an executive order to instruct all schools to move to a learn-at-home model for the rest of the school year to allow schools to remain closed, the NMAA board meeting was pushed up to 12 p.m. on Friday, March 27.
The NMAA originally announced the suspension of the season on Friday, March 13, but many of the state’s school districts, including Los Lunas Schools, had already announced the cancelation of games involving schools within their districts.
Los Lunas superintendent Dana Sanders is among those sitting on the board of directors for the NMAA.
Spirit was the only winter competition which had not yet concluded its season with the state championship and while it would have been possible to have rescheduled the competition quickly, ultimately Executive Director Sally Marquez decided against it.
“In the (spring sports), we would have needed 3,4,5 weeks to host games and to figure out what our state championship would look like,” Marquez said in an interview posted on the NMAA website. “But in spirit, once we got them back in the gym and in shape and ready to go, we could have held a competition.
“So, I knew that the timeline for spirit was much shorter than the other sports. But in the crisis we’re in right now, we had to cancel spring sports, so it was the right thing to do to also cancel spirit.”
The NMAA moved its end of the year board meeting up to the beginning of May to address concerns surrounding eligibility for fall athletes with the change to a pass/fail grading system as well as uncertainty about the possibility of summer school.
After the meeting in early May, Marquez hopes to be able to get information out to coaches and athletic directors about any changes as soon as possible.
Financially, the NMAA missed out on revenue from two of largest generators with the state basketball tournament being closed to fans and state spirit being canceled.
However, the organization has an emergency fund it will be able to tap into in order to cover the gap. Marquez said the NMAA is financially stable and will be able to resume operating as normal as soon as possible.
Belen Consolidated Schools released a statement regarding the cancelation on Friday.
“The Belen athletic department was hoping our student-athletes would have the opportunity to participate and compete in some sort of an abbreviated spring season,” Athletic Director Steven Contreras said. “However, it is an understandable decision by the Governor and the Public Education Department along with recommendations from health officials, as the safety and well being of our students needs to be the priority.
“Our hearts go out to our senior student-athletes. Unfortunately, they will not get the opportunity to play out their final high school season and showcase their abilities and talents.”
Los Lunas schools did not return a request for comment.