LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KTSM) – A day after the New Mexico State men’s basketball team suspended operations indefinitely due to hazing allegations, the team returned to the Borderland on Saturday.

The team arrived at the El Paso International Airport around noon from California on Saturday.

No coaches or players made any comments when asked about the situation.

Sources confirmed to KTSM on Friday night that the reason for the shutdown was due to allegations of hazing by at least three different players on more than one occasion. KTSM has learned a police report was filed within the last 24 hours regarding the alleged hazing incidents.

KTSM has since learned the seriousness of the hazing allegations, which include allegations of hazing in a physical and sexual nature, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the situation.

According to the university, NMSU personnel were made aware of the new allegations on Friday, which are completely separate from the ongoing investigation into a deadly shooting involving NMSU basketball player Mike Peake and four University of New Mexico students on Nov. 19, 2022.

On Saturday, a pair of New Mexico State men’s basketball players announced on Twitter they would be leaving the program: freshman Shahar Lazar and preferred walk-on Kent Olewiler.

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

Kent Olewiler also announced that his recruitment is “officially 100% open”.

On Saturday night, New Mexico State chancellor Dan Arvizu released a statement acknowledging the hazing allegations, the first time the university has done so since suspending the program on Friday. Arvizu said that the decision to suspend the program indefinitely was his.

Arvizu’s full statement regarding the suspension can be found below:

Late yesterday, at my direction, New Mexico State University (NMSU) suspended operations for our men’s basketball program until further notice. We took this action after receiving reports of alleged hazing incidents within our men’s basketball team.

Our players and coaches were in California at the time, preparing to play Cal Baptist. To ensure we fully understood this situation, we cancelled 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 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. 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.

I realize many in our community have additional questions about these alleged incidents and about the future of the men’s basketball team. In the near term, team operations remain suspended until further notice. We will share additional information, as we can, going forward.”

The NMSU student code of conduct prohibits hazing. This is what NMSU’s handbook says in regards to hazing:

An act or omission (not based on discriminatory motives prohibited by RPM and ARP 3.25) committed by one or more individuals, occurring on or off campus, where:

  1. The act or omission is committed in connection with an initiation into, an affiliation with, or the maintenance of membership in, any organization. For the purpose of this policy, “organization” means an intercollegiate or intramural athletic team; chartered student organization; or other association, order, society, corps, cooperative, club, department, unit, division or similar group that is officially or unofficially affiliated with the university and whose membership consists primarily of enrolled students or employees of the university; and
  2. The act or omission creates an unreasonable risk of emotional or physical harm, or causes actual physical harm, mental duress or degradation, or unreasonably interferes with a person’s academic endeavors or progress, or work environment.

The New Mexico State Board of Regents has two closed meetings scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 14 to discuss, “limited personnel matters concerning individual employees,” according to the Board’s meeting agenda.

It’s unclear if the meetings will include discussion surrounding the NMSU basketball program; however, an NMSU spokesperson told KTSM that any personnel changes, including termination, cannot be made in a closed session, they must be made in an open meeting.

New Mexico State administration met with the team once they arrived back in Las Cruces. The Aggies are 9-15, 2-10 in WAC play in Heiar’s tumultuous first season at NMSU.