The University of New Mexico men's soccer team found out last week that their upcoming spring season was no longer — or maybe never was — in the plans after it was informed by the Athletic Department.
In August, the University of New Mexico Board of Regents voted to eliminate men's soccer, as well as beach volleyball and both men's and women's skiing. The programs were supposed to continue through July 1, 2019, when they are scheduled to be discontinued.
Men's soccer recently sent a letter to UNM Athletics Director Eddie Nuñez, requesting confirmation of certain resources the team expected to have entering the spring season — including training sessions, a coaching staff, five spring matches, a training staff and medical services and academic advisement. The letter asserted that UNM committed to providing a soccer program through July 1 and wanted assurances it would do so.
"A January 2019 transfer may have negative consequences academically and options for transfer will be limited," the letter said. "UNM has already broken one promise to these players by eliminating the program, and we certainly hope that it does not intend to break another."
On Wednesday, men's soccer received its answer.
The team was informed by UNM associate athletic directors Ed Manzanares and Eric Schultz in a meeting that it would have full access to facilities to support its academic and athletic needs in the spring, but there would be no official practices, training sessions with coaches or games played, according to an Albuquerque Journal report.
Men's soccer and the rest of the sports programs slated to be cut have seemed to hold out hope that help from the state and potential support from a new governor might overturn the Regents' vote to eliminate the proposed sports, but that help might come too late.
Players on the men's soccer team may have their hands forced and have to make a decision to transfer earlier than anticipated if the opportunity isn't available at UNM and they want to utilize the spring schedule to train and get their games tuned up for the upcoming season.
Some have questioned whether it makes sense financially to continue to schedule games and provide support for a season that — at this time — isn't supposed to take place, while others have pointed to what they view as a lack of follow through by the university to allow the sports to continue as normal until they are discontinued — which was the understanding of many following the Board of Regents meeting in August.
In that meeting, it was agreed upon that student-athletes would have an avenue to transfer to another school and be immediately eligible to play or have their scholarships honored through their graduation date if they decided to remain at UNM.
Robert Maler is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers basketball and baseball and contributes content for various other sports as well. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Robert_Maler.