A disturbing off-field incident has proven very costly for a pair of FBS players.
Two Middle Tennessee State football players, fifth-year senior defensive end Justin Akins (pictured, No. 91) and redshirt junior linebacker Shalom Alvarez, found themselves involved in a burgeoning controversy, with a social media video leading to a police investigation into animal cruelty. Alvarez, who is seen in the video hitting the puppy multiple times, and Akins, on whose social media account the video of the beating appeared and can be heard saying “[expletive] said you don’t pay rent,” were suspended by the football program in the wake of the incident.
A statement from MTSU’s athletic director sent out Thursday night gave no indication that the two players were in jeopardy of losing their spots on the team. Less than 24 hours later, however, a statement from head coach Rick Stockstill confirmed that both players have been dismissed from the football program.
Below is Stockstill’s statement, in its entirety:
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.
After beginning his collegiate career at Georgia Tech, Akins transferred to MTSU following the 2013 season. He’s played in all 26 games the past two seasons, starting one of those contests. Last season, he led all Blue Raiders defensive linemen with four pass breakups.
In his only season with the program, Alvarez didn’t play a down in 2016.