New Mexico State last month announced the addition of a junior college transfer, but this one isn’t like most others.
As a redshirt freshman at Minnesota in 2016, Ray Buford, Jr., was allegedly involved in a sexual assault that would eventually engulf the program in result in head coach Tracy Claeys being pushed out. Though he was never charged by two separate investigations, Buford was suspended and later recommended for expulsion, along with three others, but instead announced he would leave the school before the school could kick him out.
He wound up at Independence Community College in Kansas and, now, New Mexico State.
New Mexico State’s transfer protocols require that a student be eligible for return at his or her original school in order to gain admittance to NMSU, which is under question since Buford was recommended for expulsion at Minnesota.
“Sexual assault, sexual misconduct and sexual harassment is front and center right now everywhere,” NMSU Title IX coordinator Lauri Millot told the Las Cruces Sun-News. “NMSU’s obligation is to protect our campus community, students and our staff and do it in a way that incorporates prevention, education and an appropriate response so we don’t put students or staff in a hostile environment.”
Aggies head coach Doug Martin told the paper that Buford was admitted after a multi-month investigation. In fact, Buford committed in December but was not announced until a month later.
“It started in October when we handed all of the information we had to the administration and everyone involved in making that decision,” Martin. “Football did not make the decision. We just brought it to them and said (Buford) is a young man who we believe deserves a second chance and you guys (NMSU administrators) tell us what you want us to do. I don’t think we have chased guys like that like some programs do. We have been selective and wouldn’t bring in anyone who we didn’t think deserved to be here.”
New Mexico State will compete as an FBS Independent in 2018. The Aggies went 7-6 in 2017, ending the year with a win over Utah State in the Arizona Bowl, the program’s first bowl trip in six decades.