New Mexico State fired first-year men’s basketball coach Greg Heiar on Tuesday, days after the school canceled the remainder of the Aggies’ season upon learning of hazing allegations involving players on the team.
Dan Arvizu, the chancellor of the New Mexico State University system, made the announcement in a letter addressed to the school community. Arvizu said athletic director Mario Moccia informed Heiar of the decision Tuesday afternoon.
“As I’ve stated previously, hazing has no place on our campus, and those found responsible will be held accountable for their actions,” Arvizu wrote in the letter. “I am committed to the safety and well-being of all members of our campus community, as well as to the integrity of our university.”
Arvizu said the university “will work to ensure we fully understand what happened here” through an “expansive review and full investigation.”
“We will also ensure that support systems are in place to prevent this from happening again,” Arvizu continued.
The chancellor said decisions about the rest of the coaching staff will be made after further investigation.
Heiar, 47, and his coaching staff had been placed on paid administrative leave Friday, when the university first announced that the Aggies’ game Saturday at Cal Baptist had been canceled and the season had been suspended.
Arvizu then shut down the program for the season Sunday, after reviewing a campus police report that cited three players for false imprisonment, harassment and counts of criminal sexual contact against a teammate.
The campus police report, obtained by multiple outlets, including ESPN, redacted the names of the players involved. The report detailed the victim telling investigators that on Feb. 6 three members of the team held him down, “removed his clothing exposing his buttocks and began to ‘slap his [buttocks].'” He went on to state that they also touched his scrotum.
The victim said other incidents had been occurring since last July or August, including inappropriate physical and sexual touching by teammates in the locker room and on road trips.
The report said the victim went to campus police Friday to report a possible assault but did not want to press criminal charges at the time.
Heiar’s firing comes three months after NMSU forward Mike Peake shot and killed a University of New Mexico student in what police called self-defense. Both the school and the Albuquerque district attorney have launched separate investigations after coaches and staff were found to be in possession of multiple pieces of potential evidence in the shooting, including the gun, after the incident.
Heiar instructed his team to leave town after the shooting and return to campus, according to investigators, even though local police had asked to speak with three NMSU players who were with Peake, who was taken to the hospital with leg wounds.
Peake was suspended from the team indefinitely while the authorities investigated. He has not been charged with a crime.
New Mexico State was 9-15 and 2-10 in the Western Athletic Conference under Heiar, who spent time earlier in his career as an assistant for former Aggies coach Chris Jans, who left after last season to coach Mississippi State.
Last season, Heiar was at Northwest Florida State, where he helped the Raiders win the junior college national title. He brought two highly ranked players with him from the juco ranks, Issa Muhammad and Deshawndre Washington (another player, Marchelus Avery, had moved over from Northwest Florida the season before).
The WAC is counting New Mexico State’s final six games as forfeits. The team is set to move into the bigger, higher-profile Conference USA next season. New Mexico State has made 26 trips to the NCAA tournament and reached the Sweet 16 five times.
Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.