New Mexico State suspends men’s basketball program, places coach and staff on paid administrative leave
New Mexico State University announced Friday night its men's basketball program has been indefinitely suspended, according to The Associated Press. The school also placed first-year coach Greg Heiar and his staff on paid administrative leave for “violations of university policy.”
Though a reason behind the moves was not given, the university did say the decision is unrelated to a deadly shooting involving NMSU power forward Mike Peake on Nov. 19. Peake, 21, was shot in the leg at the University of New Mexico hours before a rivalry game between the two schools.
He was reportedly lured to the campus by 19-year-old Brandon Travis and three other NMSU students, including a 17-year-old girl. Travis was also shot during the exchange and later died from his injuries. Peake was suspended in early December while a third-party investigator looked into his involvement in the shooting.
Peake has not been charged, and a December report from KOAT stated that video evidence showed three teammates – Issa Muhammed, Marchelus Avery and Anthony Roy – pick him up at the scene in a yellow Camaro before police arrived. They reportedly took him to a hospital.
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The board of regents released a separate statement saying it supported “the action taken by the university leaders and is confident a full and thorough investigation will be conducted,” according to The AP. It's not known if or when the program will be reinstated.
The district attorney in Albuquerque is conducting a separate investigation.
The shutdown of a Division I program midseason is extremely rare outside the COVID-19 outbreak or many players with injuries. Southern Methodist University's football program canceled its 1988 season after the NCAA handed it the “death penalty” the year before, but that call was made before the season began, The AP reported.
Shortly after the shooting, Heiar loaded the team, minus Peake and the three who picked him up, onto a bus and left town. The university's bus was stopped by police on its way back to campus in Las Cruces, approximately three hours south.
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The Aggies' program had been teetering since that night, beginning with the canceled game against the Lobos in Albuquerque which was scheduled for the day after the shooting, along with the Dec. 3 rematch in Las Cruces.
New Mexico State's game against California Baptist on Saturday was canceled, and it's unknown how the team's remaining five games, all conference matches, will be wiped out.
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The AP reported that leadership at the school is also in flux as the board of regents recently decided not to renew the contract of Chancellor Dan Arvizu, which expires in June.
Over the past 14 months, both the school's president and provost have resigned or been removed from their positions.
The Aggies have won seven Western Athletic Conference titles and made eight appearances in March Madness since 2007. They were supposed to move into Conference USA next year.
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In Heiar's first season at the helm, NMSU has struggled to a 9-15 record, including 10 losses in their last 12 games.
Heiar took over for Chris Jans, who went 122-32 in five seasons when he left for Mississippi State. Jans also took the Aggies to three tournaments.
Fox News Digital has reached out to NMSU and its Athletics department for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.