The New Mexico Activities Association voted Friday to oversee this summer’s sports activities and to have all student-athletes enter the fall semester with clean academic slates.
School districts typically handle summer activities, and the academic changes only applied to incoming eighth-graders and freshmen in previous years.
“Our athletic directors pushed for this,” NMAA Associate Director Dusty Young said of the summer program oversight. “Seventy-six percent of those schools felt they’d like some guidance from the NMAA.”
Young also said the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic and differing grading protocols led to the aforementioned changes for academics, which will allow everyone to start fresh.
“It’s just something to try and help our schools and the students. It’s a very unique time,” Young said.
The schools’ old grading systems will apply again for the spring 2021 semester.
“To me, that makes sense to create some sort of a level playing field. … Without it, the playing field would be difficult to manage to have the same opportunity,” Aztec Athletic Director Bryan Sanders said. “It takes the guesswork out.”
Sanders said the academic changes for the fall semester help Aztec and the rest of San Juan County because a number of students already have limited internet and computer access.
Carlsbad Athletic Director James Johns is also onboard with the changes entering the fall.
"Things couldn't stay the same. Classrooms couldn't stay the same just like the learning process couldn't stay the same. This eligibility modification is good," Johns said. "Flexibility is a critical behavior we have to have right now."
Summer workouts and practices will not be allowed until at least the end of May based the state’s health guidelines.
The NMAA’s final regularly-scheduled board meeting of the 2019-2020 school year, scheduled for May 28, will dive more into what schools, teams and programs will be allowed to do going forward. The meeting will tie into Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s latest guidelines.
“We’re always looking for guidance from them. We’re always in constant communication with those entities. It’s a fluid situation,” Young said.
Matthew Asher of the Carlsbad Current-Argus contributed to this report.
Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and on Twitter at @MattH_717.