An independent law firm investigating a fatal shooting by a New Mexico State basketball player recommended the school enhance its weapons policy and ” strengthen a culture that encourages student-athletes to adhere to the integrity and values of NMSU at all times.”
The school released the report Thursday evening, on the first full day of the NCAA Tournament, an event the Aggies were not eligible for after canceling their season in February.
An executive summary of the report did not identify any NCAA violations or failure of the school to meet legal obligations. The summary said the report was restricted by the absence of several witnesses, “including multiple basketball coaches and players,” who refused to cooperate or were unavailable.
The report made six recommendations stemming from a Nov. 19 incident in which forward Mike Peake brought a gun on a road trip to Albuquerque, then was seen on video using it to fend off an attacker who was firing his own gun at him.
Peake has not been charged with a crime in the shooting of University of New Mexico student Brandon Travis. The shootings came about a month after Peake and Travis had been involved in a melee at a football game on the NMSU campus.
Other recommendations in the report called for:
-Setting better guidelines on curfew “because so many players on the NMSU basketball team broke curfew on the night of the shooting incident.” Peake was among those who were out after curfew on the night before the Aggies were supposed to play New Mexico.
-Considering adopting a more detailed weapons policy. NMSU does not allow weapons on campus or on team trips, but that did not go far enough, according to the report. It said the school should adopt a clear policy prohibiting weapons by any player “traveling for team events or while engaging in any activity where the student-athlete is representing NMSU. NMSU should train all coaches and student athletes as to the same.”
-Creating a specific policy for how coaches and staff should interact with law enforcement when athletes are accused of criminal activity. Investigators had difficulty finding Peake’s gun after the shooting and also had difficulty contacting coach Greg Heiar and his assistants. Police had to track down the team bus on Interstate 25 after it left the next morning.
-Aiming for better coordination between the school and its stakeholders about how to share information about misconduct and possible discipline of players. The school suspended Peake 16 days after the shooting and has not given an update on his status at the university. The report made no specific recommendations about Peake and a school spokesman told The Associated Press there was no update on Peake’s status.
The shooting is not what ended New Mexico State’s season. Rather, it was separate accusations about hazing that compelled chancellor Dan Arvizu to cancel the season and fire Heiar.
In a letter accompanying the executive summary, Arvizu said a task force would be formed to implement the recommendations. He said the school was releasing the executive summary to show its commitment to transparency.
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