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New Mexico State cancels season after sex, harassment allegations

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Mar 25, 2022; Greensboro, NC, USA; A general shot of the game ball for the NCAA Women’s tournament displaying the Final Four logo in the Greensboro regional semifinals of the women’s college basketball NCAA Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: William Howard-USA TODAY Sports

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LAS CRUCES, N.M. - New Mexico State called off the rest of its men’s basketball season after reviewing a police report that cited three players for false imprisonment, harassment and counts of criminal sexual contact against a teammate.

In a statement, chancellor Dan Arvizu said “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.”

The campus police report, obtained by The Associated Press, redacted the names of the players involved. The report, filed Friday, detailed the victim telling investigators that last Monday, three members of the team held the victim down “removed his clothing exposing his buttocks and began to ‘slap his (buttocks).’ He also went on to state that they also touched his scrotum.”

The victim told police he had no choice but to let this happen “because it’s a 3-on-1 type of situation.”

The victim said other incidents had been occurring since last July or August, and that inappropriate physical and sexual touching by his teammates had been occurring in the locker room and on road trips.

“We must uphold the safety of our students and the integrity of our university,” Arvizu said. “It’s time for this program to reset.“

He said he had spoken with the commissioner of the Western Athletic Conference, which said it was reviewing how to treat the six New Mexico State games that will be wiped off the schedule in regards to seeding for next month’s conference tournament. The report said the victim went to campus police to report a possible assault, but did not want to press criminal charges for the time being.

On the same day the report was filed, the school announced it was suspending its season indefinitely and putting coach Greg Heiar and his staff on administrative leave. University regents are meeting Tuesday to discuss ‘limited personnel matters concerning individual employees.” It did not name the employees who were to be discussed.

On Saturday, Arvizu acknowledged the suspension was occurring because of hazing allegations on the team.

At about the time Arvizu revealed the hazing allegations, two players on the team quit. One of them, redshirt freshman Shahar Lazar, said he was leaving because “I don’t think the program that I originally committed to aligns with my beliefs and core values.”

These allegations come less than three months after the suspension of forward Mike Peake, who is being investigated in the case of the fatal shooting of a student from rival school, University of New Mexico on Nov. 19.

Peake has not been charged in that case, which included state police stopping the team bus on Interstate-25 as it headed back to Las Cruces shortly after the shooting, and missing Peake and three of his teammates, who had taken him to the hospital with an injured leg.