Middle Tennessee St. dismisses 2 players after video of puppy abuse surfaces (Updated)

Two MTSU players are suspended after video of puppy abuse surfaced. (AP)
Two MTSU players are suspended after video of puppy abuse surfaced. (AP)

UPDATE 1 p.m. ET Friday, April 14

Defensive lineman Justin Akins and linebacker Shalom Alvarez have been dismissed following the football program’s evaluation of the incident.

“When confronted with situations of inappropriate conduct, it is easy for a coach to simply dismiss players in trouble without taking time to study the situation,” Middle Tennessee State coach Rick Stockstill said in a statement. “I feel it is important to consider the facts carefully, and seek input from others with information and expertise before reaching a decision.

“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. 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.”


Two Middle Tennessee State players have been suspended because of an investigation into animal cruelty, the (Murfeesboro) Daily News Journal reports.

Defensive lineman Justin Akins and linebacker Shalom Alvarez are at the center of the Murfeesboro Police Department’s investigation, which was launched last week after a Snapchat video surfaced.

From the newspaper:

According to a Murfreesboro Police report from April 7, a concerned citizen reached out to detectives April 6 after seeing a Snapchat video of alleged animal cruelty.

In the video posted on Akins’ account, Alvarez is seen striking a puppy four times, the report stated.

“The puppy yelps in pain with each strike,” the report stated.

Additionally the post displays an extremely derogatory comment regarding failure to pay rent.

A police spokesman told the paper that the investigation is ongoing.

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In a statement to the paper, athletic director Chris Massaro said: “The actions captured on this video are obviously disturbing. We welcome the inquiry by the Rutherford County Pet Adoption and Welfare Services. We have high expectations of conduct of our student-athletes. Coach [Rick] Stockstill has suspended these players until the inquiry is complete and they will perform community service to the benefit of local animal welfare efforts.”

WSMV-TV, Nashville’s NBC affiliate, obtained a statement from coach Rick Stockstill as well:

“I am aware of the situation and have talked to the players involved. The players explained to me that the puppy urinated inside and they were simply spanking it as a form of discipline. 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.”

Akins tallied 27 tackles last year in his redshirt junior season. Alvarez, who will be a redshirt junior, didn’t play last season.

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Matt Fortuna is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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