UNM announces COVID-19 vaccine requirement for events at The Pit

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The University of New Mexico Department of Athletics has announced a change in the entry requirements for all events at The Pit.

Patrons will need to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination status. Officials said that proof of vaccination means having two shots of Pfizer or Moderna, or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, with the last shot received two weeks prior to the date of event entry. The requirement will not apply to fans that are under 12 years old.

“The university has a responsibility to our student athletes, coaches, staff and the thousands of passionate Lobo fans, to do what we can to protect the health and safety of those competing, coaching, working, watching, and cheering the game,” said Vice President/Director of Athletics Eddie Nuñez. “We ask for your understanding and patience as the new requirements are implemented. Our fans are the reason The Pit is the iconic venue that it is and why our student-athletes compete every day to represent them and this great state. Please help us keep our student-athletes and everyone in our community safe.”

UNM officials said Lobo fans could also provide proof of a negative COVID test – a PCR test within 72 hours of the event or an antigen test within 24 hours of the event. Home COVID tests will not be valid. Fans can have a picture of their vaccination card on their phone.

The new directive will start with the women’s and men’s basketball games on Dec. 28. The policy will remain in place until the end of January, when it will be reassessed. Unvaccinated opposing players will also have to get tested.

UNM will have to hire more staff – 20 or 30 workers for each game.

Officials also announced that fans who need a COVID test will be able to get tested for free in the Stadium East parking lot, beginning two hours prior to game time. Masks are still required to be worn inside.

The university will work with fans if they want a refund. KOB 4 asked fans what they think of the policy.

“I think it’s a public cause. It’s a common good, and I think it’s a great idea. I think the university is doing the right thing,” said Lawrence Clayton, who lives near The Pit.

Some fans are cheering the university’s decision.

“I think it’s a great idea. I hope that everyone is safe and that we’re able to come out and get our education and continue on with our life,” UNM student Alton Chen said.

Others, who didn’t want to go on camera, said it’s a bad move and will cause fewer fans to show up.

Earlier this month, officials said they were not going to do this. Monday, UNM Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez said the surge in cases has made it a whole new ballgame.

“One of the things we continue to battle here is things change, and we have to pivot and adapt when things happen, and this is one of those times,” Nuñez said.

And he has a message for fans.

“We understand that this is different, but we need them now to be understanding and patient with us. We’re going to do everything we can to have a chance to see our student athletes,” he said.