NMSU men's basketball game at Lamar canceled due to virus issues in Cardinal program

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Head coach Chris Jans stands on the sidelines as the New Mexico State Aggies face the Utah Valley Wolverines at The Orleans Arena in the Semifinals of the WAC Tournament in Las Vegas on Friday, March 12, 2021.
Head coach Chris Jans stands on the sidelines as the New Mexico State Aggies face the Utah Valley Wolverines at The Orleans Arena in the Semifinals of the WAC Tournament in Las Vegas on Friday, March 12, 2021.

LAS CRUCES — The New Mexico State men's basketball contest against Lamar Thursday was cancelled due to COVID-19 issues in Lamar's program, according to a Western Athletic Conference press release. The Aggies flew to Beaumont, Texas Tuesday ahead of Thursday's contest.

Lamar chose to cancel the game because it did not have enough eligible players, according to the release, and the game will not be rescheduled. NMSU will receive a forfeit win and Lamar will receive a forfeit loss toward WAC Tournament seeding, but the game will be considered a no-contest for NET rankings and overall records. It is the first game the Aggies have had canceled due to the virus this season.

NMSU athletic director Mario Moccia explained to Aggie play-by-play broadcaster Adam Young why the game was cancelled and not rescheduled.

"If you have seven Covid-eligible players that don't have season-ending injuries, and let's say somebody twists an ankle, has an illness, what have you, and that drops below the seven (players), and you say, 'Hey, we're not going to be able to play,' then that is ruled a forfeit," Moccia said. "If there's only four eligible players because everyone else, without a season-ending injury, has Covid, then that would be a postponement. We would work to make that game up."

Per WAC guidelines, participating schools must have at least seven Covid-eligible players and one Covid-eligible coach to compete in a game. If a team is not able to compete because of virus issues, school administrators are to work to find a date to reschedule. If the game cannot be rescheduled, it will be considered a no-contest for the purpose of NET rankings and overall records but will be recorded as a forfeit for the purpose of conference tournament seeding.

This marks the second WAC game the Aggies have either had rescheduled or cancelled entirely since conference play began. NMSU's originally-scheduled WAC opener at Seattle Dec. 30 was rescheduled to Feb. 21 at 8 p.m. due to COVID-19 issues in the Redhawks' program. It is the fifth conference game the WAC has postponed or cancelled due to COVID-19.

It is also the second consecutive game Lamar has had to cancel or postpone due to virus issues. The Cardinals' New Year's Day game against Stephen F. Austin was postponed, and Lamar dressed only eight players for its conference opener against Sam Houston State.

More: NMSU says 'no changes' to attend games, events at Pan American Center amid COVID-19 surges

NMSU is yet to have a player miss time due to COVID-19 protocol, but head coach Chris Jans, associate head coach James Miller and assistant coach Dominique Taylor have all missed games in virus protocol. Miller missed the Aggies' last game against Chicago State in virus protocol.

The NCAA on Thursday released updated COVID-19 guidance for winter sports which reflects the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's shortened recommended isolation and quarantine period for individuals who test positive for the virus from 10 days to five days if the person is asymptomatic.

The NCAA also updated its definition of "fully vaccinated" to reflect those who are either less than two months removed from completing their primary series of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, less than five months removed from completing their primary series of the mRNA Pfizer vaccine, six months removed from completing their primary series of the mRNA Moderna vaccine or hace received a booster shot, according to a release.

The Aggies' women's Jan. 6 basketball game against Lamar was postponed due to virus issues in NMSU's program less than four hours before the men's basketball game was canceled. The women's basketball game will be played Jan. 10 at 2 p.m. in Las Cruces.

The NMSU men's team's next scheduled contest is Saturday at 6 p.m. at UT Rio Grande Valley.

Stephen Wagner is a sports reporter for the Las Cruces Sun-News. He can found on Twitter at @stephenwag22 and reached at SWagner@lcsun-news.com.

This article originally appeared on Las Cruces Sun-News: NMSU men's hoops game at Lamar canceled due to COVID-19 issues in Cardinal program

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