How Unusual is it for an NCAA Team to Cancel Their OWN Season?
There’s a short answer and a long answer to that question.
First, the short answer: very.
New Mexico State University on Friday announced that it was suspending the men’s basketball team for the remainder of the 2022-2023 season.
The decision comes after the University says it is investigating allegations of “hazing” incidents. The entire coaching staff, including first-year coach Greg Heiar, has been placed on paid administrative leave.
Chancellor Dan Arvizu was vague on the details of the alleged hazing. In a letter, the chancellor described it as a “despicable act”. KTSM in El Paso has described (LINK: ) the hazing as “physical” and “sexual in nature”.
Now for the long version. How unusual IS it for an NCAA basketball team to cancel their OWN season?
Searching for this answer online has one big, obscuring cloud: Covid 19. A search for “NCAA teams” and “canceling season” comes up with, literally, thousands of articles about the Covid season when the NCAA tournament was canceled.
Additionally, numerous programs, large and small, canceled either portions of or entire seasons because of the effects of the Covid pandemic.
So, that made researching this article MUCH harder than it would have been.
However, digging a few layers more profound, it turns out there HAVE been cases of a college suspending their own team BEFORE Covid. But, those examples are few and very far between.
In 1951, Long Island University shut down ALL of its athletic programs for six years over a point-shaving scandal involving its men’s basketball team.
In the 1980s both the University of San Francisco and Tulane self-imposed “death penalties” after “multiple, major violations” of NCAA policies.
As far as suspending oneself for “hazing”, that IS unheard of, at least for NCAA basketball. I was unable to find even a single case of canceling a basketball team over hazing accusations, at least not in NCAA’s Division I.
There was a single case in 2015 when Western Kentucky voluntarily shut down their men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams over multiple accusations of hazing.
So, it seems that NMSU is entering uncharted waters with these latest developments. Taken in tandem with the shooting of a UNM student by a starting NMSU basketball player on campus in Albuquerque in November, it’s looking more and more like Greg Heiar has probably coached his last game for the Aggies.
The future of the program as a whole is likewise very uncertain at this point.
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