Where things stand with the NMSU Men’s Basketball program
LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KVIA) -- It's been nearly three weeks since Chancellor Dan Arvizu suspended the NMSU men's basketball program. Since then, we've seen the firing of the then-head coach Greg Heiar, several players leaving the program and former commits going back on the market.
But a lot is still set to transpire as investigations are ongoing.
In a statement Arvizu released Thursday to the NMSU community, he said they had hired two separate firms to investigate what has happened within the NMSU men's basketball program over the course of this season.
The Rodey Law Firm is looking into the deadly shooting in Albuquerque, where an NMSU player at the time, Mike Peake was cornered by three people. Peake shot and killed one of the three, a UNM student who shot at Peake. Three other NMSU players came and took evidence from the scene. Arvizu said they expect to have those findings within the next two weeks.
Meanwhile, the Greenberg Traurig firm is investigating the hazing and sexual assault allegations within the team. The school is also conducting its own parallel investigation. The University confirmed to ABC-7 that both of those investigations are underway but they don't have a time frame on when they will be finished.
While they wait for the investigations to be finished, the University is allowing some players from the roster to voluntarily work out for a few hours a day. While the school could not disclose how many players that includes, they told ABC-7 that not all players are allowed to participate.
ABC-7 asked an NMSU spokesperson why they are choosing to let players practice right now, considering multiple investigations are still ongoing. That spokesperson told us that they are allowing those players to practice to ensure their mental health is taken care of.
Considering the investigations are still ongoing, we also asked the school how they can be certain that the players they are allowing to work out have done no wrongdoing. We were told that there is always the possibility that new information can arise but right now, those who are working out have been cleared to do so.
The decision to allow some players to work out was a decision by the University and not the Athletics Department.
Those practices began on March 1 and considering all of the coaching staff remain on paid leave, they are being overseen by Casey Owens, an NMSU alum who was an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers from 2016-2018 and was the director of operations for the program for three years under Chris Jans.
As all of this is happening, the athletic department is beginning to look for a coach to replace Heiar.
They are hiring a firm right now to help with the search.
"A search firm will give you an extra layer of background checks and doing a deep dive into candidates' backgrounds, that's one great benefit," Athletic Director Mario Moccia said. "The other benefit is when you are targeting head coaches for men's basketball, it's a little easier when a search firm is involved to be able to make contact and then there is a firewall for both us and the candidate."
While Moccia wouldn't disclose potential candidates, he did say, "I would love to have someone who has demonstrated Division 1 coaching background and success."
Considering Owens's experience and association with the program, ABC-7 asked Moccia if he could potentially get the job.
"There are a lot of individuals that have connections to the program that we will give serious consideration," Moccia said.
Another person who falls under that criteria is James Miller, who was the associate head coach under Jans for four seasons finishing up in the 2021-22 season. Miller's name was thrown around back when Jans left but ultimately, Heiar got the job, and Miller followed Jans to Mississippi State, where he is now the assistant coach there.
"Mentally, we are starting to pair down a list, it's not a super small list like a one-handed list but it's getting more refined," Moccia said.
Dan Arvizu by KVIA ABC-7 on Scribd