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Update: Men’s basketball suspended for remainder of season due to alleged hazing, sexual misconduct

NMSU police and university administrators confirmed over the weekend that men’s basketball operations were suspended Friday due to hazing allegations made by an unnamed member of the team. 

The unnamed player told university police on Thursday, Feb. 10, that the most recent hazing incident occurred on Monday, Feb. 6, inside the men’s locker room at the Pan American Center. According to the police incident report obtained by Kokopelli, the player said three teammates held him face down, removed his clothing, struck his buttocks and touched his genitals. 

The NMSU men’s basketball team arrives at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces, New Mexico, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023, after Saturday night’s game against California Baptist University was canceled. The remainder of the 2022-23 season has been canceled amid allegations of hazing and sexual misconduct. (Photo by Hannah Hunter/Kokopelli)

According to the report, the player said the hazing started in July or August 2022. The alleged victim added that he had no choice but to let this happen because he was outnumbered. 

According to testimony contained in the report, the alleged abuse happened in front of other players. “[The complainant] advised that this conduct was usually done in front of the whole team and that no one intervened. There is also a possibility that there is another player who has been subjected to this type of misconduct,” the report states. 

After basketball operations were suspended and Saturday’s game against California Baptist was canceled, the team returned from California to Las  Cruces, New Mexico, arriving at the Pan Am Center just before 1 p.m. Saturday. The team was subsequently interviewed by university personnel in regard to these new allegations of hazing. 

“Hazing is a despicable act. It humiliates and degrades someone and has the potential to cause physical and emotional harm, or even death.”

NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu sent an email Saturday to all students, faculty and staff in which he stated it was his decision to suspend basketball operations. 

“Late [Friday], at my direction, New Mexico State University suspended operations for our men’s basketball program until further notice. We took this action after receiving reports of alleged hazing incidents within our men’s basketball team,” the email read. 

Arvizu also stated he was “heartbroken and sickened” to learn of the hazing allegations. 

“The most important job I have as chancellor of the NMSU system is to ensure our students are safe and protected from harm. 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,” Arvizu stated. 

Yesterday, Arvizu released a second statement announcing his decision to shut down men’s basketball operations for the remainder of the 2022-23 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. Hazing has no place on our campus, and those found responsible will be held accountable for their actions,” Arvizu stated. “We must uphold the safety of our students and the integrity of our university. It’s time for this program to reset. I have spoken with Western Athletic Conference Commissioner Brian Thornton earlier today and informed him of this decision.”
WAC commissioner Brian Thornton said he supported Arvizu’s decision. “The Western Athletic Conference is committed to both the mental and physical wellbeing of all our student athletes. We are saddened and disappointed that hazing continues to be a part of our society at any level. Over the last 48 hours, our staff and membership have been working to find a solution that best protects every WAC student-athlete and institution. We fully support New Mexico State’s decision to suspend the rest of its season, as they take this time to focus on the health and safety of their student-athletes,” Thornton said. 
Kokopelli will continue to report on this story as new developments emerge.

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