The state of New Mexico is suspending the men’s basketball program and placing coaches and staff on paid administrative leave
New Mexico State University announced Friday night that its men’s basketball program has been suspended indefinitely, according to The Associated Press. The school also placed first-year coach Greg Heiar and his staff on paid administrative leave for “violations of university policy.”
Though no reason was given for the moves, the university said the decision was unrelated to a fatal shooting involving NMSU power forward Mike Peake on Nov. 19. Peake, 21, was shot in the leg at the University of New Mexico hours before a rivalry game between the two schools.
He was reportedly lured onto campus by 19-year-old Brandon Travis and three other NMSU students, including a 17-year-old girl. Travis was also shot during the exchange and later died from his injuries. Peake was suspended in early December while an outside investigator investigated his involvement in the shooting.
Peake was not charged, and a December Report by KOAT stated that video evidence showed three teammates – Issa Muhammed, Marchelus Avery and Anthony Roy – picked him up at the scene in a yellow Camaro before police arrived. They reportedly took him to a hospital.
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The Board of Regents released a separate statement saying it “supports the actions taken by university leaderships and is confident that a full and thorough investigation will be carried out,” according to The AP. It is not known if or when the program will resume.
The District Attorney in Albuquerque is conducting a separate investigation.
The suspension of a mid-season Division I program is extremely rare outside of the COVID-19 outbreak or many players with injuries. Southern Methodist University’s football program canceled its 1988 season after the NCAA gave it the “death penalty” the year before, but that call was made before the season started, The AP reported.
Shortly after the shooting, Heiar loaded the team without Peake and the three who had picked him up onto a bus and left town. The university bus was stopped by police on its way back to campus in Las Cruces, about three hours south.
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The Aggies’ schedule has faltered since that night, beginning with the canceled game against the Lobos in Albuquerque scheduled for the day after the shooting, along with the Dec. 3 rematch in Las Cruces.
New Mexico State’s game against California Baptist on Saturday was canceled and it’s unknown how the team’s remaining five games, all conference games, will be wiped out.
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The AP reported that leadership at the school is also on the move, as the Board of Regents recently decided not to renew Chancellor Dan Arvizu’s contract, which expires in June.
In the past 14 months, both the school president and principal have resigned or been removed from their posts.
The Aggies have won seven Western Athletic Conference titles since 2007 and have appeared in March Madness eight times since 2007. They should move to Conference USA next year.
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In Heiar’s first season at the helm, NMSU has been struggling for a 9-15 record, including 10 losses in their last 12 games.
Heiar took over for Chris Jans, who went 122-32 in five seasons when he went to Mississippi State. Jans also took the Aggies to three tournaments.
Fox News Digital has reached out to NMSU and its athletics division for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
https://www.foxnews.com/sports/new-mexico-state-suspends-mens-basketball-program-places-coach-staff-paid-administrative-leave The state of New Mexico is suspending the men’s basketball program and placing coaches and staff on paid administrative leave