Just under a year ago, the New Mexico State men’s basketball team was a national mid-major power that took out 5-seed UConn in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and nearly reached a Sweet Sixteen.
Flash forward to Tuesday and oh how the mighty have fallen.
New Mexico State Chancellor Dan Arvizu made a call many figured was coming.
Arvizu made the announcement that first-year head coach Greg Heiar has been fired for cause.
“I want to make it clear the safety of our students is our number one priority,” Arvizu said. “Right behind that is the integrity of our institution. As I have reviewed what has occurred over the past few months, it feels like a gut punch.”
This decision comes in the wake of Friday’s report that an Aggie player spoke with university police, alleging three players had been hazing him for a period of several months.
“As a parent, as an administrator, as a member of our community, I’m both disgusted and I’m angry,” Arvizu said.
The firing comes a little over 24 hour after Arvizu suspended the remainder of the 2022-23 season.
On the floor, Heiar’s lone team was 9-15 overall and 2-10 against Western Athletic Conference competition. The Aggies are moving to Conference USA on July 1, 2023.
The Aggies are not responsible for the remainder of his $1.5 million dollar contract, which was to last five years.
Wednesday morning Arvizu, finishing his final year as Chancellor, and Director of Athletics Mario Moccia met with the media in Las Cruces.
“Our men’s basketball program has been infected by a culture of bad behavior,” Arvizu remarked. “However, we believe it has been contained to just that program and there have been actions taken as a result.”
Moccia, when asked about the appointment of Heiar as Aggies head coach almost one year ago, remarked, “Well, I regret the outcome. Nobody bats a thousand but I’m certainly tremendously disappointed…not just for the victim, but for everyone involved. I don’t think our model for vetting coaches is broken. But it’s certainly something we’ll take a look at.”
Arvizu also made note in Wednesday’s press conference that Heiar retained outside counsel and missed a scheduled meeting with investigators earlier this week. That gave the university cause for his termination.
Three Aggies players, Shahar Lazar, Kyle Feit, and Kent Olewiler, have entered the transfer portal.
Let’s take a look at the timeline of the last year of New Mexico State men’s basketball.
March 17th, 2022: On opening day of the NCAA Tournament the Aggies defeated 12th seed UConn 70-63.
Two days later on March 19, 2022, New Mexico State falls to Arkansas 53-48 in the round of 32.
March 20th, 2022: Chris Jans takes the job as men’s basketball head coach at Mississippi State, replacing Ben Howland.
March 28th, 2022: Moccia announces Greg Heiar as Jans’ replacement.
November 19th, 2022: Mike Peake sneaks out of the hotel to meet a 17 year old girl on the UNM campus. Peak is then ambushed by a group of three UNM students. He is hit in the leg with a baseball bat and an exchange of gunfire occurs. Peake gets hit in the leg and Brandon Travis dies on the scene. Saturday’s rivalry game against New Mexico is cancelled along with the return game two weeks later.
February 10th, 2023: While in California getting ready to play CBU, a report is filed with University police by a player accusing three teammates of ongoing hazing going back several months. The game is cancelled and Heiar and staff are put on paid administrative leave. CBU Director of Basketball Operations Doc Wellman had to find a last minute replacement, fills the game with West Coast Baptist College.
February 11th, 2023: The Aggies return to Las Cruces and meet with administrators.
February 12th, 2023: Chancellor Arvizu informs Western Athletic Conference Commissioner Brian Thornton that New Mexico State is cancelling the remainder of its season as a result of these allegations.
Tuesday: Heiar is fired with cause. Meanwhile, the remainder of his staff is on paid administrative leave pending the outcomes of multiple investigations.