New Mexico State is halting its men's basketball program amid an investigation into alleged hazing between players, CBS Sports' Matt Norlander confirms. The Aggies, who have just five regular-season games remaining, already canceled a Feb. 11 game against Cal Baptist following the allegations.
The school previously announced it was suspending team operations and placing the coaching staff on paid administrative leave "until further notice." The decision came at the behest of New Mexico State chancellor Dan Arvizu after being made aware of the hazing allegations.
"We took this action after receiving reports of alleged hazing incidents within our men's basketball team," said Arvizu. "Our players and coaches were in California at the time preparing to play Cal Baptist. To ensure we fully understood this situation, we canceled that game, called the team back to Las Cruces and placed the coaching staff on paid administrative leave. Once our student-athletes arrived on campus, they were met and interviewed by university personnel who are specially trained to conduct investigations into these kinds of matters."
According to a police report obtained by KTSM-TV, three players are facing a trio of offenses, including one count of false imprisonment, one count of harassment and two counts of criminal sexual contact. The victim, a member of the basketball team, claims that on Feb. 6, 2023, three members of the team whose names were redacted in the police report "held him down with him facing down, removed his clothing exposing his buttocks and began to 'slap his ass.' He also went on to state that they also touched his scrotum."
Incidents of abuse have allegedly been taking place since summer of 2022. The victim then went to campus police on Feb. 10 to file a report for possible assault, though no criminal charges have been field.
In its initial statement, NMSU said only that the allegations involve potential violations of university policy that are "separate from the events that took place in Albuquerque late last year."
In November, a New Mexico State player was hospitalized after a Mike Peake, was hospitalized and then suspended for his role in the incident, which left a New Mexico student dead.in the early morning hours before the in-state rivals were scheduled to play. The player,
"The most important job I have as Chancellor of the NMSU System is to ensure our students are safe and protected from harm," added Arvizu. "That's why I was so heartbroken and sickened to hear about these hazing allegations. Hazing is a despicable act. It humiliates and degrades someone and has the potential to cause physical and emotional harm, or even death. Sadly, hazing can become part of an organization's culture, if left unchecked. NMSU policy strictly prohibits hazing, in all forms, and it's something we simply will not tolerate."
The Aggies are 9-15 and 2-10 in the WAC after finishing last season 27-7 and beating No. 5 seed UConn in a first-round NCAA Tournament game. Following last season, coach Chris Jans left for Mississippi State and the school hired Heiar from Northwest Florida State, a power in the junior college ranks. Heiar previously worked as an assistant at ETSU, LSU, Wichita State and Southern Miss.
New Mexico State's Board of Regents released a statement saying it supports the program's suspension "and is confident a full and thorough investigation will be conducted."