WEEKLY INTERVIEW WITH NMAA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SALLY MARQUEZ APRIL 26, 2021
New Mexico Activities Association Executive Director Sally Marquez answers questions about the return to athletics and activities for the 2020-2021 school year. Here is this week’s interview.
This is the last week of the regular season for basketball. How will the seeding and selection be different this shortened season than in previous years?
The biggest difference is we are going from 16 teams to 8 teams. The district champions automatically qualify and that is not any different than we’ve had before. But this year we don’t have those district tournaments or those district playoff games, so the district champion by either record or, if there is a tie, it will be determined by the point spread differential, to determine the district champion and the automatic berth. With only 8 teams qualifying, in a lot of classifications we have six or seven districts, so there are only going to be a limited number of teams for those at-large bids. It could be only 1, 2 or 3 teams max to finish out the field. As far as the criteria, it will be the same. The six criteria points will determine seeding and selection and it is totally data driven.
With district champs earning an automatic qualifier, how do tie breakers work? Are district tie breakers different in this COVID year?
They are not, they are the same. However, they are going to mean a lot this year. Last year, we had district tournaments, and to get that number one seed in that district tournament, we had a playoff game. Those are no longer happening this year. The tiebreaker procedure to determine who is first in the district will take place. That’s going to be head to head, if there’s two teams tied, after that it’s a point spread. That will determine the district champion and the automatic qualifier. Just because you’re tied for first in the district before the tie breaking procedures, does not mean that you will automatically qualify for state. There may just be one team out of that district and if you are not the automatic qualifier, then you are in with all the other teams to see if you will be selected into the tournament. To seed and select, we will use the six criteria points that we’ve used previously. The difference here is that there is less data and less games, but those six criteria points will be used and, as always, it is data driven. The NMAA does not have any input whatsoever as to who qualifies.
Will fans be allowed at this year’s state basketball tournament?
Just like the regular season, spectators are determined are determined by the color of the county. The quarterfinals and semifinals will be at home sites. So, the color of the county will determine whether there are spectators or not for those games. As far as the finals at the Pit, that’s on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Whatever color Bernalillo county is at that time will determine whether we are going to have spectators or not.
Spring sports are underway. Will they have a shortened season like many of the fall and winter sports and are fans allowed?
I’m so excited you are saying spring season has started. We’ve had some baseball games, some track meets, it’s really exciting to see that spring sports are up and running since we didn’t get to do that last year. Is the season shortened? Just a little bit. The whole idea throughout the calendar, since we’ve been moving and shifting this calendar making sure that all sports are played in the 2020-2021 school year, was to make sure that our spring sports got a good, solid season. So, their season is not 6-7 weeks, it’s actually almost two-and-a-half months that we are going to have spring sports. As far as spectators, currently the yellow, green and turquoise counties can go to outdoor sports. So, you are able to watch those spring sports that we missed last year.
Lastly, do you think any of the changes during this COVID year will remain for the 2021-2022 school year?
I’m not sure about that and I don’t think anybody knows. It will depend on how the state is doing with COVID numbers, are we vaccinated, are we mask wearing, are we social distancing, all that will be determined later. What we need to do is focus in on this year. We are finishing up the winter season and we are moving to the spring sports. We need to make sure those spring sports get a solid season since they did miss last year. Let’s do everything we can to make sure we follow the governor’s orders and we get to the finish line. I’m so excited that we are coming towards the end. We are finishing winter sports, we had our fall sports, and that goal that we are going to play all sports in New Mexico in the 2020-2021 school year is happening. Let’s do it and get to the finish line.