New Mexico State’s men’s basketball season came to an abrupt halt Feb. 12 after the release of a police report that detailed three players ganging up on a teammate and attacking him in a case that includes allegations of false imprisonment, harassment and criminal sexual contact.
“It’s time for this program to reset,” chancellor Dan Arvizu said in the statement that announced the end of the season.
Arvizu said the shutdown was in response to a report filed to campus police on Feb. 10 by a player against three teammates. According to the report, the victim said that on Feb. 6, his teammates held him down “removed his clothing exposing his buttocks and began to slap his (buttocks). He also went on to state that they also touched his scrotum."
The victim, whose name was redacted in the report along with those of the other players, said other incidents involving inappropriate physical and sexual touching had been occurring in locker rooms and on road trips since last summer. Regarding the latest instance, the victim told police he had no choice but to let this happen “because it’s a 3-on-1 type of situation.”
Arvizu, who will be leaving the university in June after regents recently chose not to renew his contract, said “this action is clearly needed, especially after receiving additional facts and reviewing investigation reports related to the hazing allegations involving student-athletes on the team.”
“We must uphold the safety of our students and the integrity of our university,” said Arvizu, who had initially suspended the program on Friday, then revealed what he called hazing allegations a day later.
He said he had spoken with the commissioner of the Western Athletic Conference, which said it was reviewing how to treat the six New Mexico State games that will be wiped off the schedule in regards to seeding for next month’s conference tournament.
The report said the victim went to campus police to report a possible assault, but did not want to press criminal charges for the time being.
The allegations come less than three months after the suspension of forward Mike Peake, who is being investigated in the case of the fatal shooting of a student from rival school, University of New Mexico, in Albuquerque on Nov. 19.
Peake has not been charged in that case, which included state police stopping the team bus on Interstate-25 as it headed back to Las Cruces shortly after the shooting. Missing from the bus were Peake and three of his teammates, who had taken him to the hospital with an injured leg.
New Mexico State finished the season at 9-15, with only two conference wins in 12 games. The Aggies, long a source of pride on their 13,000-student campus in Las Cruces, have been to eight NCAA tournaments since 2007. They are scheduled to move from the WAC to Conference-USA next season.
The next big decision for this program appears to be coming Tuesday, when university regents will hold a closed meeting to discuss “limited personnel matters concerning individual employees.” It did not name the employees who were to be discussed. The scheduling of the meeting came Saturday, the day after Arvizu placed coach Greg Heiar and his staff on administrative leave at the same time he suspended the season.
The scrubbing of the 2022-23 campaign came a day after two players quit following the initial reports of the hazing incident.
One of them, redshirt freshman Shahar Lazar, said he was leaving because “I don’t think the program that I originally committed to aligns with my beliefs and core values.”