Jason Hooten takes over as New Mexico State basketball coach

New Mexico State is turning to veteran coach Jason Hooten to rebuild its troubled basketball program.

The school announced the hiring of Hooten as head basketball coach on Friday but did not release contract terms. For the past 13 years, he led Sam Houston State to 261 wins and six postseason appearances.

"I believe Coach Hooten is a tremendous fit for New Mexico State," athletic director Mario Moccia said in a news release. "Throughout his coaching career, he has demonstrated an ability to build hard-nosed, defensive-minded teams. Importantly, his programs are always modeled on character and integrity."

In February, the school shut down the basketball program and chancellor Dan E. Arvizu instructed Moccia to fire first-year coach Greg Heiar after allegations of hazing by a team member.

That followed an incident that occurred Nov. 19 when the Aggies traveled to Albuquerque to play New Mexico. New Mexico State player Mike Peake was involved in a shooting that killed a 19-year-old New Mexico student and left him injured. Police have said Peake was lured to the campus in retaliation for a fight that occurred in October during a football game between the schools.

Peake was suspended from the school.

The Aggies were 9-15 (2-10 Western Athletic Conference) when the season was canceled. Six players from the 2022-23 have entered the transfer portal.

It was just a season ago that the Aggies, under former coach Chris Jans, finished 27-7 (14-4) and won their first-round game in the 2022 NCAA Tournament.

That likely won't be expected of Hooten in his first season. His Sam Houston team, however, qualified for the NIT this season and won its first-round game game, 58-56 over Santa Clara, before being eliminated by North Texas in the next round.

Hooten, 53, had an overall record of 261-169 at Sam Houston State. His is the winningest coach in Bearkats' history and had six 20-plus win seasons, including in four of the past six.

--Field Level Media

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