WEEKLY Q&A WITH NMAA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SALLY MARQUEZ MAY 15, 2020
Based on the recent directive from the New Mexico Public Education Department that schools will close for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year, the NMAA and its Board of Directors have cancelled the 2020 State Spirit Championships, the 2020 Spring Sports Season, and all remaining activities for the current school year. This cancellation applies to practices/workouts, in addition to contests/events.
Due to the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, the Public Education Department has closed schools and additionally addressed interscholastic athletics/activities as part of this process. The NMAA will continue to keep the schools, students and parents informed with a series of questions and answers with Executive Director Sally Marquez.
Here is the latest question and answer session with NMAA Executive Director Sally Marquez on May 15, 2020.
Sally, the Board of Directors met on Friday to discuss and take action on some items. Let’s start with the action items. First and foremost, what did the Board decide about Scholastic Eligibility for athletes for the upcoming school year?
For athletes, scholastic eligibility is a Clean Slate. What does a clean slate mean? In our bylaws for 8th graders and 9th graders, when they are starting athletics in the fall for the first time, they get a clean slate. That means you do not look back at the previous grading period, the previous semester, for eligibility. They are automatically scholastically eligible. The Board of Directors voted today that all student athletes, no matter the grade, will get a clean slate. So, all student athletes will be eligible scholastically and we are not going to look back at this semester’s grades for eligibility in the fall. With that being said, the eligibility/ineligibility piece will start at the first marking period. At six weeks, and most schools are nine weeks, the athletic directors will look at the grades and the kids must have a 2.0 and no F’s to continue on to play. If they have an F, or they do not have a 2.0, then they are ineligible for the remainder of the semester. We will pick back up for scholastic eligibility as we have currently done the past year at the first semester. The December grades is when we will again look at the ineligibility and eligibility as we do now for the second semester sports.
What action was taken in regards to summer activity and NMAA regulations?
We didn’t talk about exactly what summer was going to look like, but the vote came down that the NMAA will regulate the summer for the 2020 summer activities. It’s for this summer only. We usually do not regulate the summer activities, that is up to the schools as to how the coaches are going to do camps and tournaments and practice and things like that. However, the Board voted today that the NMAA will regulate summer and we will send out guidelines as to what’s going to happen and what coaches can and cannot do. Summer usually begins Memorial Day weekend. The next Board of Directors meeting is May 28th, that is after Memorial weekend. In that motion, the board did say that it will start on May 28th. So, no activities, no athletics, everything has to be virtually, until we have the next board meeting on May 28th.
How about virtual activity events after Memorial Day? What was decided?
That was our third action item. It was determined that the activity world, speech and debate, FCCLA, there’s a lot of activities that do competitions virtually this summer. They’re going to have some national competitions. It was decided, by the Board, that at this time they can register for those activities. They can start preparing virtually for those activities and they will be able to compete in those competitions virtually this summer.
Now a couple discussion items, action wasn’t taken yet on any of these. What is being discussed about rules clinics and officials clinics which have taken place in previous years during the summer and in person?
We had a discussion item on rules clinics. Last year, the NMAA would go to five regions and we would have our rules clinics. The discussion was that I am recommending that this next school year that those rules clinics are done virtually. We do not know how many people can be in a room in the fall and throughout the year, but it was more about the budgets and helping the schools financially so they don’t have to travel somewhere for a rules clinic. So, we will do our rules clinics virtually next year. Also, the officials clinic will be done virtually. We will not be hosting the officials clinic at the end of July.
What is the Board talking about when it comes to physical exams for student athletes for the upcoming school year?
That still is a concern. We have talked with SMAC, the sports medicine advisory committee in New Mexico, there is also a sports medicine advisory committee for the NFHS, and we have been in contact with both groups. We are just not there yet and ready to take action with what’s going to happen with physicals in August. We will have on that with that May 28th Board meeting.
I know we are still a long way from the fall and several things can change between now and then. But a question a lot of people are asking is “Will there be fall sports?” When that question gets asked, what is your response?
I’m hopeful. We will continue to work with the Governor’s office and the Public Education Department and whatever we can do to have fall sports, we are going to do. But we have to stay within the Governor’s guidelines as well. We also need to talk about if school is going to be in session. If we don’t have school in session then we are back to what happened in the middle of March. That all ties together. It’s not sports by itself. Do I have an answer for all of that? No. When I have an answer for that, I’ll be excited. Until then, we are going to focus on the next step. Our next step is giving guidelines to our schools about summer and what can happen in the summer and how coaches can work with the athletes this summer. Then we will continue to communicate and work on the fall. All I can say is We Will Play Again, New Mexico.