On Monday, the New Mexico Activities Association posted its second question and answer session with Executive Director Sally Marquez in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The goal of the sessions is to serve as a way for Marquez to keep athletes and their families up to date on the latest information regarding a slew of issues that will face the summer and fall sports seasons.
This is the fourth installment of the Q&A the NMAA has published.
Most notably, the NMAA Board of Directors meeting originally scheduled for May 1 to address many of the concerns regarding scholastic eligibility, in particular, has been pushed back to May 6 following the extension of the stay-at-home order through April 30.
Marquez said the biggest challenge the organization is facing in terms of eligibility is the differences in how various school districts are handling grades during this time.
She sent out a survey to athletic directors around the state in order to try and figure out what everyone is doing to handle this in order for the NMAA to begin formulating a plan to handle eligibility questions for the fall.
Any other topics to be discussed at the May 6 meeting are still up in the air due to the ever-changing nature of the current situation.
NMAA has authorized spirit teams to hold virtual tryouts in April, but Marquez stressed programs that do not normally hold their tryouts in April should try and stick to their normal schedule.
“Just because we are saying you can have tryouts in April and everybody is kind of antsy, that doesn’t mean we all need to go out and have tryouts,” Marquez said. “I’m also asking coaches that if you are having virtual tryouts, you need to make sure you have another tryout when the kids are back in school.
“We have some kids that do not have internet access or we have some kids that may not shine or show what they really can do virtually.”
Marquez also ruled out the possibility of athletes being given a fifth year of eligibility, such as the NCAA has done for spring athletes who had their senior season cut short.
“We are not. We are education-based athletics. I know it’s heartbreaking for these seniors who are not able to compete this year,” Marquez said.
“But we have bylaws in place such as you have four years, whether you participate or not, beginning with the ninth grade year, we also have a bylaw that once you get your graduation credits that you are no longer eligible for high school sports.”
Currently, the plan is for summer sports to begin after Memorial Day weekend, but as with everything else, this is subject to change as the situation develops.
Virtual workouts are allowed and Marquez hasn’t put any special restrictions on those workouts, other than they must follow the normal out of season rules, which limits workouts to seven and a half hours per week, Monday through Friday.
She left the window open for athletic directors to impose addition restrictions if they deem it necessary.
“However, I’m going to leave that up to the athletic directors to make that decision — what’s best for their communities and what’s best for their schools,” Marquez said.
Some consideration has been given to allowing spring teams to practice more frequently in the fall, but at this point Marquez feels its too early to make changes to the rule.
Finally, she stressed the importance of everyone doing their part in order to flatten the curve.
“We need to be supportive of them and we need to be supportive of the governor saying ‘stay home’,” Marquez said. “I get that we just want to go out there and play, but we need to be smart. We’ve heard this over and over, we need to flatten the curve.
“If we’re smart now, then maybe come Memorial weekend we’ll be able to play all summer and all fall and the entire 2020-2021 school year.”