LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) — Kickoff is less than a month away for the New Mexico State Aggies who haven’t played a regular season game in nearly two years. NMSU was one of just three FBS programs in the entire country — Old Dominion and UConn the others — who didn’t play a single down of football last fall due to the pandemic. The Aggies, instead, opted to play three games in the spring.
Set to hit the practice field on Friday, the trending topic surrounding college football continues to be vaccination rates, and it was no different on Media Day at NMSU on Thursday. Head football coach Doug Martin would not comment on vaccination rates, but says the way they operate as a team will be directly affected by who is vaccinated and who is not.
“We understand that contact tracing will be an issue for people that aren’t vaccinated, so you really have to look at managing your team,” said Martin. “How you sit players in meetings is important because you want to make sure you aren’t getting contact traced if someone has a positive test. How you travel is going to become important — where they sit on the plane and who they room with. All those types of things are still going to have to be dealt with.”
Even with a different set of challenges ahead of the Aggies, Martin trusts his players to make the best decision for themselves.
“I couldn’t applaud Coach Martin more than how he has handled that and been open minded about leaving that choice up to us,” said NMSU graduate transfer Eli Johnson. “He hasn’t tried to force anything on us and neither has the administration. A lot of people would be like, ‘it’s better for my football team so I’m going to try to twist your arm and force you to get vaccinated and he has not been like that, at all.’ It’s a personal decision between you and your doctor and we are going to respect that and we will accommodate you whether you want to get it or don’t want to get it.”
NMSU will open the season on Aug. 28 against Battle of I-10 rival UTEP. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. MT at Aggie Memorial Stadium.