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UTEP's Moore, Ragland still suspended; FBI won't confirm, deny investigation into team

By Darren Hunt, DHuntabc7@yahoo.com
Published On: Jan 06 2014 07:29:39 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 07 2014 04:44:53 PM CST

Courtesy UTEP Athletics

McKenzie Moore, left, and Jalen Ragland have both been suspended indefinitely from the UTEP men's basketball team.

EL PASO, Texas -

Why UTEP's junior guards McKenzie Moore and Jalen Ragland have been suspended from the team indefinitely is still a mystery.

The extent to which law enforcement may be involved also is not known.

Comments on internet message boards have alleged that point shaving, a federal crime, is the reason for the suspensions of Moore and Ragland.

So far, KVIA has interviewed several people who purport to know about the rumors, but ABC-7 has found no evidence to support them, and no specific allegation involving a particular game or games has emerged. No other theory is dominating online chatter as this one is.

Point shaving is the practice of intentionally winning a game by fewer points than oddsmakers favor that team to win by. College basketball has had several major point shaving scandals throughout its history. It is known as the sport of choice for "fixing" the outcome of a contest because it can be accomplished by a small number of key players.

When asked if there was an ongoing investigation into the UTEP men's basketball team, El Paso FBI spokesman Mike Martinez said, "We're not going to make a comment right now."

When asked if the FBI could confirm or deny it was investigating illegal conduct involving the UTEP men's basketball team, Martinez responded again with, "We're not going to make a comment right now."

UTEP's administration also is not talking about the suspensions.

UTEP's office of the president was emailed several questions regarding the suspensions of Moore and Ragland, including if either player was expected to return to the team this season, if the players are still on the team, and if the players are being investigated for criminal activity, including point shaving.

"At this time the University has no additional information to add to Coach Tim Floyd¹s statement to the media last week. McKenzie Moore and Jalen Ragland have been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules," Richard Adauto, UTEP's executive vice president, said in a statement in response to the questions.

Moore was part of the team last year. He was previously suspended for the Dec. 16 game against New Orleans. Ragland is a newcomer.

Moore and Ragland were both suspended from the team indefinitely starting with the Dec. 28 game with Western Illinois.

The 10-5 miners open conference play Thursday at home against Charlotte, followed by a home game on Saturday against Marshall.

Without Moore, the Miners will have a hard time winning Conference USA or its post-season tournament, which will be at the Haskins Center this year.

If the Miners do not make the NCAA tournament, it will be the fourth consecutive year under Coach Tim Floyd that they've failed to do so.

Sources within the program tell ABC-7 it appears Moore and Ragland are done for the rest of the season.

ABC-7 dropped in on several UTEP officials Monday to ask for an update the situation and whether Moore and Ragland are indeed out for the season.

First ABC-7 popped in on athletic director Bob Stull at the Brumbelow Building. He was conducting an interview, so we left a message, but didn't hear back by deadline.

Stull did address the situation this week in his column in El Paso Inc, hinting they may not return this season.

Stull wrote: "The Miners' recipe for success in league play will have to remain on point without Moore: play great defense, control the rebounding and get to the foul line."

ABC-7 then headed over to the Administration Building to speak with Adauto. He was not in, but Adauto later put out a release, stating: "The University has no additional information to add to Coach Tim Floyd's statement to the media last week."

The final stop was the UTEP basketball offices, where ABC-7 left a message for Floyd. He never called back.

But a source with the team told ABC-7 that Floyd has told players Moore and Ragland will not return this year.

The last UTEP official to speak publicly about the situation was Dr. Diana Natalicio on New Year's Eve. She said she knew little about it at that point, but admitted she "cringes" anytime something occurs that could stain the University's image.

"I have no clue," longtime UTEP booster Russ Vandenburg said when asked about the situation. "Whatever it is, Tim made a decision that was best for the team and I'm a big Tim Floyd fan and he's gonna get us to the promised land. So, I stand behind the coach's decision."

ABC-7 Web Producer Leonard Martinez contributed to this report.

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