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College Basketball

New Mexico State Men’s Basketball Season Canceled Due To Hazing Incident

The basketball hoops are shown before the championship game of the Western Athletic Conference basketball tournament between the Grand Canyon Lopes and the New Mexico State Aggies at the Orleans Arena on March 16, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images

New Mexico State University canceled the remainder of its men's basketball season on Sunday, after a campus police report cited three of the team's players for charges related to hazing a teammate: false imprisonment, harassment, and criminal sexual conduct. The three players were cited for a Feb. 6 incident in which, the victim told police, they held him down and removed his clothing, before they began to "slap his ass" and touch his scrotum.

The player reported the incident to campus police on Friday. He told them that this incident was preceded by multiple instances of hazing dating back to "July or August," and that it had been occurring both in locker rooms and on road trips. According to KRQE News, police said that three other players had participated in hazing this season, and that there might be another victim on the team. So far, none of the players involved have been named publicly, and the victim declined to pursue criminal charges connected to the incident.

On the same day that the player reported the hazing to campus police, NMSU chancellor Dan Arvizu suspended the team indefinitely, before confirming in a statement on Sunday that the rest of the season would not be played: "Today, I am announcing my decision to suspend operations for our men’s basketball program for the remainder of the season. 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."

Arvizu's statement also confirmed that he had talked to the Western Athletic Conference about the decision; the conference announced Monday night that the Aggies' remaining games will be considered forfeits. According to ESPN, the NCAA will just not count the forfeited games in the affected teams' schedules for tournament consideration.

The Aggies had been dealing with an entirely separate off-the-court issue earlier this season. On Nov. 19, NMSU forward Mike Peake was lured to a University of New Mexico dorm room by 17-year-old Mya Hill and three other students: Brandon Travis, Eli-Sha Upshaw, and Jonathan Smith. Upshaw attacked Peake with a baseball bat, while Travis shot at him. Peake returned fire with his own gun and shot Travis four times, killing him.

Police said that the plan to lure Peake was in response to a fight the forward had been in with the men involved in the ambush. After the shooting, police retrieved the gun used by Peake, which was acquired legally, in the hands of an NMSU assistant coach, after the team bus had left town while police were trying to interview them about the shooting. Hill, Upshaw, and Smith were all charged in the case; Smith took a plea deal in January. Neither Peake nor anyone in the NMSU program has been charged.

No one in the Aggies' program has been fired yet, either. Head coach Greg Heiar and the rest of his staff are currently on administrative leave since the cancellation of the season. Three players have already left the team: Kyle Feit, Shahar Lazar, and Kent Olewiler. The Aggies conclude their season with a 9-15 record and a very murky future.

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