Due to the increased health risks posed by surging COVID-19 numbers and the emerging threat of the omicron variant, The University of New Mexico Department of Athletics is announcing a change in the entry requirements for all events in The Pit. The new directive will start with the women’s and men’s basketball games on Tuesday, Dec. 28.

The decision was made in consultation with the President’s leadership team, UNMH leadership as well as other internal and external constituents.

Lobo fans will have three ways to come and enjoy Lobo Basketball in The Pit. The simplest will be for patrons to provide proof of vaccination status. Proof of vaccination status means having two shots of Pfizer or Moderna, or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine (or AstraZeneca for international fans), with the last shot received two weeks prior to the date of event entry.

The second way to enjoy Lobo basketball at The Pit would be to provide proof of a negative COVID test. A PCR test must be within 72 hours and an antigen test must be within 24 hours of the event. Home COVID tests are not valid for this type of entry.  The third way to enjoy Lobo Basketball at The Pit is to be under 12 years old, as fans up through age 11 will be admitted without proof of vaccination.

“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.”

Patrons to all events at The Pit must additionally adhere to all other state health regulations, which currently include wearing a mask in any indoor venue or setting.

“Throughout the pandemic, UNM leadership has continuously evaluated our operations, monitored trends and conditions both within and outside of New Mexico, and consulted with our frontline health experts,” said UNM President Garnett S. Stokes. “An incredible amount of deliberation has gone into every decision, policy and mandate made in response to the pandemic. Our own UNM Health System continues to operate far above its capacity; care in our hospitals is safe, but the ability to continue to provide it is being threatened.

"To support our health care system and the patients we serve, we are taking steps to prevent the further spread and mutation of COVID-19. With cases surging nationally, and the uncertainty created by the apparently highly transmissible Omicron variant, we have made the decision to require vaccination or a negative test to attend events at The Pit for the safety of our community.”

The policy will remain in place through all events until the end of January 2022 and will be reassessed at that time. Starting with the basketball games on Dec. 28, the doors to The Pit will open 90 minutes prior to tip (30 minutes earlier than normal) to allow fans to have more time to enter the arena and complete the extra step required for admittance. Through a partnership with UNM Athletics and Southwest Labs, fans needing a COVID test will be able to take one onsite for free. Those tests will be located in the Stadium East parking lot, beginning two hours prior to game time.

“It is our intent to make this entire process fast and efficient,” said Deputy Director of Athletics David Williams. “The goal is despite the extra step, that we will be able to get our fans into the building quickly. The UNM Navy ROTC will be assisting with the verification and will be a great help in streamlining our entry into The Pit.”

Williams added, “Those who come prepared with their vaccination cards or negative COVID test documentation should not see a significant delay in entry into The Pit.”

For more information, fans can read the FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).  For questions, comments, concerns or inquiries on refunds, fans can go to www.golobos.com/COVID-19.  Primary and booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine can be conveniently scheduled at vaccinenm.org or vaccines.gov. 

Upon request, NMHED and NMDOH can assist with arranging vaccination events and testing services on your campus and provide information and materials regarding vaccine booster doses and doses for children and young adults.