State University Chancellor Suspends Men’s Basketball Program Over ‘Despicable’ Allegation

New Mexico State University’s basketball program is in limbo after the university system’s chancellor took the dramatic step of suspending the program and putting all coaches on paid administrative leave.

Chancellor Dan Arvizu said he took action upon reports of hazing, according to ESPN.

“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,” he wrote in a statement

“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.”

In its reporting, KTSM-TV said it was told by sources that allegations of hazing involve at least three players and concern more than one instance. The station reported that a police report has been filed concerning the incidents.

The station claimed it was told by sources it did not name that the hazing allegations are physical and sexual in nature.

Arvizu said the allegations were serious enough that even though the team was in California for a game, it was recalled to New Mexico immediately

“To ensure we fully understood this situation, we canceled that game, called the team back to Las Cruces and placed the coaching staff on paid administrative leave. Once our student-athletes arrived on campus, they were met and interviewed by university personnel who are specially trained to conduct investigations into these kinds of matters,” the statement said.

Prior to the statement, freshman Shahar Lazar had posted on Twitter that he was leaving the school.

“Having served several years in the Israeli military, I was raised on the value of excellence, discipline, respect, reliability and accountability. However, in retrospect, I don’t believe the program that I originally committed to currently aligns with my beliefs and core values,” he wrote.

The New Mexico State University Board of Regents issued a statement that it “supports the action taken by the university leaders and is confident a full and thorough investigation will be conducted,” according to ABC.

The New Mexico State basketball program was already reeling from an investigation into the shooting death of a University of New Mexico student by NMSU forward Mike Peake.

Although the shooting was ruled self-defense, ESPN said that coaches and school staff had potential evidence with them, including the gun, prompting investigations from the school and the Albuquerque district attorney.

The school said that the shooting incident is not related to the hazing allegations.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.