The chancellor at New Mexico State expressed his confidence in athletic director Mario Moccia on Wednesday, less than a week after the school’s most high-profile sports program – the men’s basketball team – was shut down for what the chancellor said was a culture of bad behavior, egregious violations of the student code of conduct and other “despicable acts.”
In addition to backing Moccia, chancellor Dan Arvizu said at a news conference that he was confident the behavior that led to the cancellation of the season and firing of head coach Greg Heiar was not reflective of the athletic department or the school overall.
“Our review indicates that this culture of bad behavior is contained within the basketball program,” Arvizu said.
He was speaking less than 24 hours after firing Heiar, whose program was sunk by a pair of scandals, both of which are subject to ongoing investigations. The latest was the hazing allegations reported to campus police by a player who said three teammates ganged up on him and attacked him in the team locker room.
That came on top of the fatal shooting of a student at rival University of New Mexico in November. Surveillance video of the shooting shows New Mexico State player Mike Peake being shot at by that student, then responding by shooting the student as they ran through an apartment parking lot. Peake has been suspended from school but not charged in the incident.
Arvizu said the shooting, which had roots in a fight that Peake and others were involved in at an Aggies football game a month earlier, is still under investigation. He said players who are under investigation could be suspended from school, suspended from basketball or exonerated.
At a board of regents meeting held shortly after the fatal shooting, chair Ammu Devasthali said guns are not permitted on the university campus or on university trips.