New Mexico State University 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 Saturday evening, Chancellor Dan Arvizu said he made the call to suspend the program “until further notice” late Friday after receiving reports of alleged hazing incidents within the team. Though details were not announced with the suspension on Friday, the university did say it was not related to a deadly November shooting involving power forward Mike Peake.
The university has not shared any details on 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 canceled, the team was called back to campus in Las Cruces and the coaching staff was placed on paid administrative leave.
NEW MEXICO STATE SUSPENDS MEN'S BASKETBALL PROGRAM, PLACES COACH AND STAFF ON PAID ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE
When the team arrived back to campus, Arvizu said they were “met and interviewed by university personnel who are specially trained to conduct investigations into these kinds of matters.”
The chancellor said the most important part of his job is ensuring the school system's students are safe and protected from harm, adding he is “heartbroken and sickened” 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. “Sadly, hazing can become part of an organization’s culture, if left unchecked.”
Arvizu said the school's 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 many in the NMSU community want clarification on the incidents and the future of the basketball program. He reiterated the team's operations remain suspended until further notice and, going forward, additional information will be shared when possible.
The suspension comes at a troubling time in the Aggies program after a Nov. 19 shooting on the Albuquerque campus of rival University of New Mexico left 21-year-old Peake injured and 19-year-old UNM student Brandon Travis dead.
NEW MEXICO STATE BASKETBALL PLAYER WAS ‘LURED’ TO CAMPUS BY FOUR UNM STUDENTS AHEAD OF FATAL SHOOTING: POLICE
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 New Mexico State Police in December showed three people approach 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 struck 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 FOOTAGE SHOWS FATAL SHOOTING ON NEW MEXICO CAMPUS WHERE RIVAL PLAYER WAS ALLEGEDLY LURED
The game was initially rescheduled for the following day, but was postponed to Dec. 3 and moved to Las Cruces. It was ultimately canceled.
Peake was indefinitely suspended from the team two days later while his involvement in the shooting was investigated. As of February, he is not facing 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 first-year leadership of head coach Greg Heiar, holding a 9-15 record this season, which includes 10 losses in their last 12 games.