Two Middle Tennessee State football players have been dismissed from the team amid a police investigation into a video of the players striking a dog.
Redshirt senior Justin Akins and redshirt junior Shalom Alvarez were suspended Wednesday, the day after allegations of possible animal cruelty were made public. The police investigation stems from a video posted to Akins’s Snapchat account in which Alvarez strikes a dog at least five times. The caption on the video was “[Expletive] said you don't pay rent.”
The players were dismissed from the team Friday. In a statement issued Tuesday to local NBC affiliate WSMV, head coach Rick Stockstill said the players told him they were disciplining the dog and didn’t intend to harm it.
“The players explained to me that the puppy urinated inside and they were simply spanking it as a form of discipline,” Stockstill said. “They told me there was never any intent to harm the dog. This was an important teaching moment. I talked to them about other approaches that should have been considered in this situation. And I pointed out how disciplining a pet in such a manner could be misconstrued, especially with the impact of social media.”
The dog did not belong to either player, according to WSMV.
Stockstill said in a statement Friday that he made the decision to dismiss both players after consulting authorities.
“After reviewing the matter further, and speaking with authorities with the appropriate expertise, I have decided to dismiss Justin Akins and Shalom Alvarez from our football team,” Stockstill said. “Their actions were in violation of the values and standards of our program. I appreciate the work by the Rutherford County Pet Adoption and Welfare Services and Murfreesboro Police Department. Their expertise was invaluable in this process and will help educate our players.”