2 NMSU players announce intentions to leave team
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LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Two New Mexico State University players officially announced their intentions to leave the team Saturday afternoon.
Kent Olewiler and Shahar Lazar both made those announcements on social media within minutes of each other.
Multiple outlets reported the suspension is connected to hazing allegations.
A university spokesperson says the decision is not related to the deadly shooting at the University of New Mexico involving a now former Aggie basketball player this past November.
And while neither player directly addressed those reports, Lazar – who came to NMSU from Israel – posted a message on Twitter:
“Having served several years in the Israeli military, I was raised on the values of excellence, discipline, respect, reliability, and accountability. However, in retrospect, I don’t believe the program that I originally committed to currently aligns with my beliefs and core values.”
Most students KOB 4 spoke with on campus were not aware of the situation. However, a few told us they were not surprised about the potential hazing allegations:
“It’s a team sport, and if you’re conversing against players on your own team: hazing your own teammates, then you can’t work together as a team, and that affects your school, and everybody else that’s involved with it as well.”
The university’s coaching staff is on administrative leave and the rest of the season has been suspended indefinitely.
NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu confirmed the hazing allegation on Twitter Saturday, saying :
“Dear members of our NMSU Community:
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.”