LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico State has hired longtime Sam Houston coach Jason Hooten to try to restore a program that was shut down in the middle of the season after one player was involved in a fatal shooting and another accused teammates of hazing.
Aggies athletic director Mario Moccia called Hooten, who had a 261-169 record in 13 seasons at Sam Houston, a tremendous fit and someone who can build hard-nosed, defensive-minded teams.
“Importantly, his programs are always modeled on character and integrity,” Moccia said.
It’s not clear what sort of roster Hooten will inherit.
The school is conducting an investigation into a player’s accusation that three teammates ganged up on him multiple times in hazing episodes. The school has not revealed the status of the accused players. Two reserve players quit after the hazing allegations surfaced.
New Mexico State also hasn’t divulged the status of Mike Peake, the forward who brought a gun on a road trip to Albuquerque and shot and killed a student at University of New Mexico after that student pulled a gun on him.
Peake was suspended by the team. Surveillance video shows Peake acting in self-defense and he has not been charged by police.
New Mexico State is moving from the Western Athletic Conference into Conference USA next season.
“I appreciate this opportunity to restore New Mexico State University’s basketball program to a position as one of the top mid-major programs in the country as we enter into Conference USA,” Hooten said.
The Aggies have made the NCAA Tournament 10 times since 2007.
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