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Darryl Stonum is a sports contributor to The Paper. In addition to holding communications and media degrees from the Univ. of Michigan and Baylor University, Darryl has played professional football for the NFL Kansas City Chiefs and was a contributor to the NFL network.

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Two University of New Mexico sports programs have sought asylum in other states in hopes of securing a season. The Lobos football program has set up a temporary home in Las Vegas, Nev., while the men’s and women’s basketball squads are in Texas. The teams relocated in an effort to preempt the state’s COVID-19 restrictions imposed on sports programs.

The Lobos football program, which recently broke its 14-game losing streak, has partnered with the University of Las Vegas Nevada. While in Nevada the Lobos, with head coach Danny Gonzales at the helm, were able to hold nearly a dozen full-team practices—something the team was unable to do in state due to the restrictions. At Sam Boyd Stadium, the former home of the Running Rebels, the Lobos were able to secure its first victory since 2018. The now Sin City Lobos, at least for this season, will attempt to create a playing bubble in Las Vegas. Players and staff are still required to submit three COVID-19 tests weekly, with any positive test resulting in an automatic two-week quarantine and/or three consecutive negative tests, before returning to action.

“On top of the three tests we submit weekly, we literally don’t do anything outside of team-related activities. We don’t go anywhere outside of our team-approved places and only see and interact with our team,” said Lobos wide receiver Emmanuel Logan-Green.

UNM’s football program averages roughly 490 tests every two weeks. There hasn’t been a single positive test within the team or staff since mid-October according to UNM’s Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez.

Being away from New Mexico is causing the athletic program to take a hit financially. However, the relocation has given the team’s seniors a priceless season. By relocating to a temporary home, the team’s seniors have one last season to suit up, put on pads and hit the field in cherry and silver—one last season to share the bond and brotherhood with teammates and competitors.

“You have to think, unless we go pro, this is it for us. Soon we’ll be out of college, joining the working world, and going into the next phase of our lives. You never forget the last time you played, and I’m grateful that myself and my fellow seniors and teammates have this opportunity to play,” said senior Logan-Green.

The Lobos hope to continue its negative test results and add more victories to their record (1-5). The team is working hard and eager to continue the sweet taste of victory after the nailbiting 17-16 win against Wyoming.

Meanwhile, a couple of hours east of the Land of Enchantment, the Lobos men’s and women’s basketball programs face similar challenges. The basketball squads are nesting in Lubbock, Texas, where total state confirmed cases exceeded more than one million last week. Stadiums and arenas are allowed 50 percent capacity. The Lobos have to remain safe and undergo the same testing protocol at the football team. Although the NCAA basketball season just started, it’s already proven to be an uphill battle for the men—as all its games have been postponed or cancelled. The women are off to a sizzling 2-0 start, with impressive wins over Midwestern State and Sam Houston State. The men have a tentative game scheduled for Dec. 31 against 4-1 Nevada.

Stay up-to-date with games, scores, and all UNM sports updates at Golobos.com.

Special Tribute

This article is in loving memory of former UNM great Kelvin Scarborough, who recently passed away at the age of 56. Scarborough was a star point guard for the Lobos from 1983-87, before being selected in the 1987 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets. After his professional career, he returned to Albuquerque where he coached the boys’ basketball program at Menaul School for more than a decade and hosted numerous free basketball camps for kids in the city. He preached using the game of basketball to help kids propel themselves to a better future. Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to Scarborough’s family, friends and loved ones. [ ]

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