2 New Mexico State players quit day after program suspended
Two New Mexico State basketball players quit the team Saturday, less than 24 hours after the program was put on indefinite suspension while the university looks into possible violations of school policy.
Shortly after the team returned from the Los Angeles area, where its game against California Baptist was canceled, Shahar Lazar and Kent Olewiler announced on social media that they were leaving the team.
Neither player had played this season. This was shaping up as a redshirt year for Lazar, a freshman who came to Las Cruces from Israel. Olewiler also took a roundabout path to Las Cruces; he was a preferred walk-on who was not listed on the Aggies official roster
Lazar said he was leaving because, "I don't think the program that I originally committed to aligns with my beliefs and core values."
Olewiler said, simply, "my recruitment is 100% open."
The school announced late Saturday that it would hold a closed meeting Tuesday night to "discuss limited personnel matters concerning individual employees." It did not name the employees who were to be discussed.
In announcing the indefinite suspension of the basketball program on Friday night, the university put coach Greg Heiar and his staff on administrative leave pending an investigation into the possible violations of school policy.
The university said those violations were unrelated to the Nov. 19 fatal shooting in Albuquerque of Brandon Travis, a 19-year-old student from rival school, University of New Mexico. Aggies forward Mike Peake was suspended early in December while an outside investigator looked into his involvement in the incident that ended with the shooting. In the moments before the shooting, Peake suffered a leg injury and was later taken to the hospital by three of his teammates.
Peake has not been charged in the case, which is also under investigation by the district attorney in Albuquerque.
Also on Saturday, The Associated Press requested a New Mexico State campus police report that alleged hazing within the men's basketball program. A spokesman for the police department said the report was part of an ongoing investigation and the department was hoping to release it as soon as possible.
Associated Press reporter Jacques Billeaud contributed to this report.
AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and