Dan Arvizu, NMSU Chancellor
Mario Moccia, NMSU Director of Athletics
We could not be more disappointed in the Albuquerque Journal after reading their recent editorial accusing New Mexico State University of playing “fast and loose” with our ethical standards, particularly when it comes to our student-athletes. We were especially disappointed because the Journal felt compelled to print an apparent indictment of NMSU’s integrity without contacting the university to gain first-hand information, and instead relying on the reporting of other news outlets.
For years, NMSU has had one code of conduct for our student-athletes, and another for the rest of our student population. This has been a concern for us for quite some time because having two different codes of conduct makes discipline ambiguous in certain cases and sends us off into a potentially dangerous area where certain students might be judged more harshly than others for the same infraction. That’s why, going forward, NMSU will have a single code of conduct for all students, regardless of whether they are student-athletes.
We have not retreated from the concept of treating athletes to a higher standard, and our change actually strengthens that idea. This new process takes discipline decisions out of the hands of the Director of Athletics and places it with NMSU’s Dean of Students, who has no agenda with athletics. This new process will be more independent and transparent than the former policy. It also still allows flexibility for head coaches to adopt specific rules for their teams regarding academics, curfews prior to athletic contests, etc.
The Journal insinuates this change was made solely to benefit a single student-athlete. That’s simply not true. Under our new code of conduct, the review of the student in question has not yet been completed, so the premise of their editorial is flawed. That student will still have a hearing early in the new semester when his situation will be reviewed by our Dean of Students.
We are extremely proud of our athletic program and stand by it, 100 percent. Our student-athletes had a combined GPA of 3.20 this past spring semester, provide more than 6,200 hours of community service each year, and graduate at a higher rate than the rest of our student population. Meanwhile, about a quarter of the student-athlete population are Crimson Scholars – including 36 who maintained a 4.0 GPA this past spring.
Our student-athletes are tremendous individuals and have gone on to pursue postgraduate or doctoral degrees and work at Fortune 500 companies such as Raytheon and the Phoenix Suns. Meanwhile, a member of the men’s tennis team was recently awarded Academic All-America honors and will pursue his postgraduate degree at Stanford. We’ve also had student-athletes who have given back to their communities to work for the Las Cruces Fire Department, Doña Ana Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Secret Service Presidential Detail.
The integrity of our great university will not be compromised. Full stop. We hope the Journal will contact us the next time they have questions regarding a decision we have made.
This was submitted to the Albuquerque Journal on July 15, 2019, in response to their editorial printed July 13, 2019.