New Mexico State University has revealed the reasoning behind the university’s decision to suspend its men’s basketball program and place the coaching staff on paid administrative leave.
In an email late Saturday, Chancellor Dan Arvizu said he asked to suspend the program «until further notice» Friday night after receiving reports of alleged hazing incidents within the team. Although details of the suspension were not announced Friday, the university said it was not related to a fatal shooting in November involving power forward Mike Peake.
The university has not shared any details about the alleged hazing incidents or the names of those accused of participating.
Arvizu said NMSU players and coaches were in California preparing for Saturday’s game against California Baptist when the decision was made. The game was then cancelled, the team called back to campus in Las Cruces, and the coaching staff placed on paid administrative leave.
STATE OF NEW MEXICO SUSPENDS MEN’S BASKETBALL PROGRAM, PLACES COACH AND STAFF ON PAID ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE
When the team returned to campus, Arvizu said they were «received and interviewed by university personnel who are specially trained to conduct investigations on these types of matters.»
The chancellor said the most important part of his job is to ensure that students in the school system are safe and secure from harm, adding that he is «heartbroken and disgusted» to hear reports of hazing.
«Hazing is a despicable act. It humiliates and degrades someone and has the potential to cause physical and emotional harm, or even death,» Arvizu said. «Unfortunately, hazing can become part of an organization’s culture, if left unchecked.»
Arvizu said that school policy strictly prohibits all forms of hazing and it is something that will not be tolerated.
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He concluded the email by acknowledging that many in the NMSU community want clarification on the incidents and the future of the basketball program. He reiterated that the team’s operations remain suspended until further notice and additional information will be shared in the future where possible.
The suspension comes at a troubling time in the Aggies program after a Nov. 19 shooting on the Albuquerque campus of rival New Mexico University that left Peake, 21, wounded and UNM student Brandon Travis, of 19, dead.
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Police reported that Travis and three other UNM students, including a 17-year-old girl, lured Peake to campus hours before the rivalry game.
Surveillance footage released by the New Mexico State Police in December showed three people approaching the basketball player from behind before hitting him in the legs with a baseball bat and shooting him in the left leg. Peake can then be seen pulling out a gun and firing several shots, which hit Travis and resulted in his death.
Three of Peake’s teammates, later identified as Issa Muhammad, Marchelus Avery, and Anthony Roy, picked him up from the scene and took him to a hospital.
SURVEILLANCE VIDEO SHOWS FATAL SHOOTING ON NEW MEXICO CAMPUS WHERE RIVAL PLAYER WAS LURED
The game was initially rescheduled for the next day, but was postponed to December 3 and moved to Las Cruces. It was finally cancelled.
Peake was indefinitely suspended from the team two days later while his involvement in the shooting was investigated. As of February, he does not face criminal charges in connection with the shooting.
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The Aggies, who are the reigning Western Athletic Conference champions, have struggled under the leadership of first-year head coach Greg Heiar, going 9-15 this season, which includes 10 losses in their last 12 games.