Student-athletes at New Mexico State University now fall under the same code of conduct as regular students, and will not necessarily be held to a higher standard, according to a report by KRQE in Albuquerque.

Under the old policy, a student-athlete faced automatic dismissal when convicted of a felony. That is no longer the case, drawing scrutiny from The Albuquerque Journal.

In a statement released last week, university chancellor Dan Arvizu defended the policy, under which the athletic director will be removed from the disciplinary decision-making process with regard to athletes. Such decisions will now be up to the dean of students. University officials adopted the concept in April, believing it will actually strengthen the idea of holding athletes to a higher standard.

According to the Journal, the change benefits rising senior basketball player Terrell Brown, who pleaded no contest in May to a felony assault charge out of California, where he played basketball as a freshman at San Jose State before being dismissed over the incident, and later at City College of San Francisco. Brown will still get to play at NMSU next season. In addition, the university didn’t suspend forward Eli Chuha last year after he punched a UNM player.

NMSU athletic director Mario Moccia wrote to NMSU president John Floros on April 11 stating that two codes of conduct was cumbersome, making “discipline ambiguous in certain cases” and putting the athletics department “into a potentially dangerous area of specific minority groups being judged more harshly than others for the same infraction.”

The memo was approved on April 29. Brown pleaded no contest on May 21. The 2019-20 NMSU Code of Conduct went into effect July 1.

In a statement, NMSU says Brown will still have a hearing next semester and his case will be reviewed by the dean of students.

“When you look at the details surrounding the case, and we have dug into it as deep as possible, we felt comfortable and justified in offering a second chance,” Moccia said, as reported by the Journal. “He has been a model citizen and great in the classroom.”

Paul Steinbach is Senior Editor of Athletic Business.