NMAA Board of Directors votes unanimously to start latest sports calendar on Feb. 22

Matt Hollinshead
Farmington Daily Times
Aztec's Marcquis Henry fires a pass down the middle against Bernalillo during a 4A state football playoff game on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, at Fred Cook Memorial Stadium in Aztec. The NMAA Board of Directors voted unanimously to allow the latest sports calendar to begin on Feb. 22, starting with football, cross country and volleyball.

FARMINGTON — After Monday’s lengthy discussion weighing multiple factors in starting up sports, the New Mexico Activities Association Board of Directors voted unanimously to allow the latest sports calendar to get underway on Feb. 22.

Football, cross country and volleyball would begin practicing on Feb. 22, while soccer would start on March 1.

The revised calendar was approved with the understanding that the NMAA and schools would have to be flexible with the schedule as the season progresses.

NMAA Executive Director Sally Marquez said the soccer season would play 10 matches, and volleyball would play 12 matches. A three-round playoff would follow for both sports.

Football would play five games, which could include a postseason. Cross country would have three regular-season meets, plus district and state championship meets.

Marquez said University of New Mexico would host the state championship matches for soccer and volleyball, but quarterfinal and semifinal matchups would be held at host sites.

Marquez also said teams that choose to opt out of individual sports will not be penalized.

To view the full sports calendar and listed guidelines, visit https://www.nmact.org.

COVID-19 protocols

Marquez said she made it be known to athletic directors statewide that if a school has four rapid responses related to positive COVID-19 cases within a two-week period, that school would be forced to shut down.

Marquez also said she’d accommodate teams that may need to start their season at a later date, even if it means just two weeks of playing time.

Additionally, Marquez said she still hasn’t received full clarification on whether fans would be allowed to attend games. Marquez also said all sports teams would be required to wear face masks, and the NMAA would adjust that rule accordingly based on the state’s public health guidelines.

Football equipment will also be allowed temporarily

The NMAA also unanimously passed an exception to its bylaw to temporarily allow football equipment to help players get acclimated to the upcoming season.

Marquez said the equipment must stay in locker rooms and that players cannot take equipment home with them.

The unknowns

Board members noted questions they still have about requirements to enter the state’s hybrid learning model, which schools can start as early as Feb. 8.

Schools must in hybrid learning sessions for two weeks prior to starting practices, but some schools may not necessarily be able to start hybrid learning on Feb. 8.

Nevertheless, the NMAA now has a calendar and start date to work with.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports and business for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577, mhollinshead@daily-times.com and on Twitter at @MattH_717.

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