LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) – New Mexico State has hired longtime Sam Houston coach Jason Hooten to try to rebuild a program that was shut down midseason 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 great fit and someone who can build tough, defensive-minded teams.
“Importantly, his programs are always based on character and integrity,” Moccia said.
It is not clear what roster Hooten will inherit.
The school is investigating the player’s allegation that three of his teammates repeatedly ganged up on him in hazing episodes. The school did not disclose the status of the accused players. Two back-up players quit after allegations of embezzlement emerged.
The state of New Mexico also has not released the status of Mike Peake, the gunman who brought a gun on a trip to Albuquerque and shot and killed a student at the University of New Mexico after the student pulled a gun on him.
The team suspended Peake. Surveillance footage shows Peake acting in self-defense and police have not charged him.
New Mexico State is moving from the Western Athletic Conference to Conference USA next season.
“I appreciate this opportunity to restore the New Mexico State University basketball program to its position as one of the top mid-major programs in the country as we enter Conference USA,” Hooten said.
The Aggies have made 10 NCAA Tournament appearances since 2007.
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