EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – Official practices began for teams across the college basketball landscape on Wednesday, including UTEP and New Mexico State, with enhanced precautions due to COVID-19.
Per NCAA regulations, now that official practices have begun, all teams must conduct testing once per week. Both NMSU and UTEP did that on Wednesday. That number will be upped to three times weekly once competition can begin on Nov. 25.
However, NMSU has other hoops to jump through with the state of New Mexico, after new COVID-19 regulations were issued by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday.
Per the governor’s COVID-Safe Practices that govern the Land of Enchantment’s collegiate teams in their return to play, all university athletic programs must send a formal plan to the governor and have it approved before they can practice in full.
Current state regulations do not permit workouts in groups larger than 10, but once the Aggies have their plan approved, they will be allowed to practice with their full complement of players. NMSU officials told KTSM that they expect to be able to practice fully soon.
“We’ve been working with our administration to ensure our student athletes remain safe and in compliance with both the state and the NCAA testing protocols,” New Mexico State head coach Chris Jans said. “We’ve been doing that since (COVID-19) hit, and we’ll continue doing it.”
NMSU director of athletics Mario Moccia earlier this week that the university had been going above and beyond with its COVID-19 protocols, including testing, since athletes returned over the summer.
While the Aggies wait to be fully cleared, they’re also working on putting together a nonconference schedule. Jans said it’s still a work in progress, which puts them in the same boat as many other college teams.
However, home-and-home contests with rivals New Mexico and UTEP appear to be on the docket, Jans said.
“From where I sit right now, everything seems to be on schedule to be able to get all four games,” Jans said. “We’re still working it out with each other to figure out potential dates and make it work for everybody’s respective schedule. everyone has been great to work with and we’re trying to figure it all out.”
UTEP practiced as well on Wednesday, but head coach Rodney Terry did not meet with the media to discuss the start of the season.