(LAS CRUCES, N.M.) — The New Mexico State University men’s basketball program has been suspended indefinitely amid an investigation into alleged hazing incidents the school’s chancellor said left him “heartbroken and sickened.”
The allegations surfaced Friday as the men’s basketball team was in Southern California preparing for a game against California Baptist University in Riverside, Dan E. Arvizu, chancellor of New Mexico State University said in a statement Saturday night. He said he immediately suspended the basketball program, canceled Saturday’s game and placed the coaching staff on paid administrative leave.
“We took this action after receiving reports of alleged hazing incidents within our men’s basketball team,” Arvizu said in his statement.
Arvizu said the players and coaching staff were called back to the school in Las Cruces and interviewed by university personnel specially trained to conduct investigations into hazing incidents.
“The most important job I have as Chancellor of the NMSU System is to ensure our students are safe and protected from harm,” Arvizu said. “That’s why I was so heartbroken and sickened to hear about these hazing allegations.”
Arvizu did not provide details of the incidents or say when they occurred. In his statement, Arvizu added, “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 left unchecked,” Arvizu said. “NMSU policy strictly prohibits hazing, in all forms, and it’s something we simply will not tolerate.”
Arvizu said the men’s basketball program will remain suspended “until further notice.”
School personnel were “recently informed of new allegations” involving the potential violations of school policy, the Las Cruces university said in a statement.
The New Mexico State University Board of Regents said in a statement that it “supports the action taken by the university leaders and is confident a full and thorough investigation will be conducted.” The board noted it was informed of the suspension Friday evening.
In a statement on the university’s website, the Board of Regents announced it will hold a closed-door meeting on Tuesday on matters that “may include discussion of personally identifiable information about individual NMSU students.”
The men’s basketball team competes in the Western Athletic Conference. In a statement to ESPN, the NCAA Division I conference said it is “continuing to monitor the situation at New Mexico State and at this time has no additional comment.”
The allegations are unrelated to a fatal shooting involving one of the men’s basketball team players that occurred in Albuquerque late last year, the school said.
On Nov. 19, forward Mike Peake was allegedly involved in a pre-dawn shootout on the University of New Mexico’s campus while in Albuquerque for a game against the school, New Mexico State University officials said.
Brandon Travis, 19, and three other University of New Mexico students allegedly lured Peake to the campus to assault him, New Mexico State Police said.
Travis allegedly confronted and shot Peake, 21, who returned gunfire, police said. Travis was pronounced dead at the scene, and Peake was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, police said.
A 17-year-old was arrested and charged with aggravated battery and conspiracy in connection to the shooting, and no additional arrests have been announced. The incident remains under investigation by state police.
That weekend’s Albuquerque game and a Dec. 3 rematch in Las Cruces were canceled, and Peake was suspended from the team.
In December, New Mexico State University announced it will launch an independent investigation into the events and university response involving the shooting.
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