NMSU player suspended indefinitely after punching opponent in the face

New Mexico State men’s basketball player Robert Carpenter was suspended indefinitely for landing a sucker punch on an opposing player during a game Thursday, the school announced Friday.

The fateful blow came midway through the first half of NMSU’s 79-73 overtime win over Liberty. Carpenter exchanged a pull and a shove with Flames forward Shiloh Robinson while jostling for rebounding positioning, and the battle ended with Carpenter hitting Robinson in the face as he started running in transition.

Here’s the play in question:

Carpenter, who averages 9.7 points per game, was immediately ejected from the game.

NMSU head coach Jason Hooten apologized to Liberty while speaking with reporters after the game and said he was “shocked” by what happened. He affirmed that Carpenter would see at least a one-game suspension based on Conference USA rules.

The school obviously went beyond that requirement, citing the importance of emphasizing that its program “places the utmost priority on the values of sportsmanship and respect.”

In a separate statement, Hooten again apologized while defending Carpenter’s character and revealing that the player apologized to Robinson and his own teammates after the game:

“I want to reiterate my sincere apologies to Liberty University and Coach McKay for the actions of Robert last night. Throughout my 14-year career as a head coach, I have consistently upheld a high standard of conduct, and something like this has never taken place within my programs, nor is this acceptable.

“Robert is a good kid. Unfortunately, he showed some poor judgment during the game and made a mistake. I believe he is a high-character guy, as are all the guys that we bring into this program. Last night, Robert had the opportunity to meet with the Liberty student-athlete involved in the incident, offering a face-to-face apology. Robert has also since apologized to his teammates and the community for his actions.

“We will continue to support Robert academically, and we will revisit the extent of the suspension in the near future.”

Nov 6, 2023; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; New Mexico State Aggies forward Robert Carpenter (21) shoots the ball against Kentucky Wildcats guard Adou Thiero (3) during the first half at Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Carpenter might have to wait a while before being allowed to play again. (Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports)

Carpenter is in his first season with New Mexico State, continuing a career that has seen him join a different program every season since his freshman year in 2019-20.

The Detroit native began his career at St. Bonaventure before transferring to Pearl River Community College, Mississippi Valley State and Kent State. He was a sought-after player in the transfer portal last offseason by virtue of his season with Mississippi Valley State, in which he averaged 17.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.


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