MTSU Players Dismissed From Football Program After Animal Abuse Allegations

Posted at 2:53 PM, Apr 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-14 19:38:02-04

Two students have been dismissed from the football program at Middle Tennessee State University following allegations of animal abuse.

On Friday, it was announced that Head Coach Rick Stockstill had released both Justin Akins and Shalom Alvarez from the football program.

Reports stated a video was allegedly posted from Snapchat that depicted one of the players hitting a puppy.

Representatives with PETA said they want animal cruelty charges brought against the players. They released the following statement on Friday:

"PETA is calling for cruelty to animals charges against both the abuser and the person who filmed the violent act, in addition to their dismissals from the football team. Viciously striking a puppy is a violation of Tennessee’s anti-cruelty statute—and that the cruel act was filmed and bragged about on social media is cause for even more concern. Abusing animals and bragging about it indicates a lack of empathy and self-control that will surely have even more consequences if not dealt with at the root."

Coach Stockstill released this statement following the players' dismissal:

"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. 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."

News Channel5 spoke with Coach Stockstill on the phone on Friday, and he expanded on why he waited to make the decision, wanting to give the players the consideration they deserved. 

"People on the outside, they don't know me and they don't understand how serious I take the responsibility of being a head coach and trying to help these guys get on or stay on the right path to success, to learn how to be a good husband, to be a good father, to be a good son, to be a good friend, so you know, all of this stuff is as important to me as winning games. You know, probably more important."