An internal investigation of New Mexico State released Thursday made a series of recommendations in the wake of a season that included a fatal shooting, a program shutdown amid hazing allegations and the termination of first-year head coach Greg Heiar.
The investigation was commenced by Rodey Law Firm in Albuquerque in November after NMSU forward Mike Peake shot and killed a University of New Mexico student in what police called self-defense.
The firm’s report concluded that the school did not commit any legal or NCAA violations. But it did recommend multiple changes to athletics policies, including new rules on team curfews; a more detailed policy prohibiting the possession of weapons while traveling to team events; and guidelines for how coaches and staff should speak with police, especially if an incident occurs off-campus.
“We’re sharing this information with our campus community to show our commitment to transparency and to begin working together to implement the recommendations in the report,” school chancellor Dan E. Arvizu said in a memo. “We said from the beginning, if this review highlights opportunities for improvement, we will pursue those. While the report did not identify any failure by the university to meet its legal obligations, we now know we have areas that can be strengthened. We will soon announce a task force that will work closely with the administration and the Board of Regents to address these recommendations.”
State police who investigated the November shooting said Peake had acted in self-defense, and he was not charged with any crime. However, he was indefinitely suspended by the program.
Heiar was fired in February, days after school officials announced the cancellation of NMSU’s season following a police report that alleged multiple hazing incidents within the program. Heiar had already been under scrutiny after he left town with his team following the shooting, even though he knew state police had wanted to speak with him and some of his players who’d picked Peake up from the scene of the shooting.
Multiple players broke curfew the night of the shooting, which was confirmed by coaches who were interviewed by state police. The NMSU report’s strongest language was aimed at the school’s curfew policy.
“Many colleges and universities leave the issue of curfews to each coach to manage,” the report said. “Nevertheless, because so many players on the NMSU basketball team broke curfew on the night of the shooting incident, and in fact were out of their hotel rooms well after curfew, we recommend that NMSU consider developing a policy that addresses the adoption and enforcement of team curfews during out-of-town travel and the related expectations of NMSU student athletes.
“The policy should make clear to student athletes the importance of following team curfew rules and the importance of holding themselves out as student ambassadors consistent with NMSU values. NMSU should train all coaches and student athletes as to these expectations.”