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NMSU suspends men’s basketball operations, puts coaches on leave

New Mexico State announced Friday night that it has shut down its men’s basketball program until further notice while investigating unspecified ‘potential violations of university policy.’

The school said in a statement that its next game against California Baptist on Saturday will not be played as scheduled and its men’s basketball coaching staff, including first-year head coach Greg Heiar, has been placed on paid administrative leave.

‘New Mexico State University is suspending operations for the men’s basketball program until further notice,’ the school said in its statement, provided by university spokesperson Justin Bannister.

‘NMSU personnel were recently informed of new allegations, separate from the events that took place in Albuquerque late last year, involving potential violations of university policy.’

The statement appears to refer to the shooting in Albuquerque last year involving Aggies forward Mike Peake.

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It is immediately unclear whether the ‘new allegations’ referenced by New Mexico State are criminal in nature.

In a separate statement, the New Mexico State University Board of Regents said only that it ‘supports the action taken by the university leaders and is confident a full and thorough investigation will be conducted.’

Bannister did not immediately reply to a follow-up email from USA TODAY Sports asking whether the decision to suspend the men’s basketball program was made by the athletic department or at the university level. 

A school spokesperson told the Las Cruces Sun-News, which is part of the USA TODAY Network, that the team had already traveled to California by the time the decision to suspend operations was made Friday.

The Aggies reached three of the past four NCAA tournaments under previous coach Chris Jans, who is now the head coach at Mississippi State. But they are 9-15 in their first year under Heiar and are sitting in last place in the Western Athletic Conference. 

WAC spokesperson Tony Jones wrote in an email that the conference was monitoring the situation and had no additional comment.

New Mexico State’s decision to suspend the operations of its entire men’s basketball program is rare, and comes on the heels of a tumultuous few months. 

On Nov. 19, authorities allege, four University of New Mexico students attempted to ‘lure’ Peake to campus and jump him as retaliation for a previous fight. Peake and one of the UNM students, Brandon Travis, each drew a gun, police said. Travis was killed in the ensuing shootout, while Peake sustained a gunshot wound in his left leg.

The aftermath has drawn further scrutiny. Surveillance video shows that, before police arrived, three of Peake’s teammates came to the scene in a Chevrolet Camaro and Peake put his gun and a tablet in the trunk. Authorities later retrieved the weapon and the tablet from assistant basketball coaches, and an athletic department administrator turned over Peake’s phone. 

New Mexico State has since hired an outside firm to investigate the matter.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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