Note: This story has been updated from its original version to reflect the news that both players have been suspended.
Two Middle Tennessee football players being investigated for animal cruelty have now been suspended, the university announced on Wednesday.
The investigation of redshirt junior LB Shalom Alvarez and redshirt senior DL Justin Akins was prompted by a Snapchat video that showed them hitting a dog multiple times, according to NBC affiliate WSMV.
Alvarez pulled the dog from under a bed and is seen striking the dog at least five times while the puppy can be heard crying in pain, according to police.
Teammate Justin Akins, a redshirt senior defensive lineman, posted the video on his Snapchat account last month with the comment: “(Expletive) said you don’t pay rent.”
MTSU announced that both players have been suspended while the investigation is completed. Athletic director Chris Massaro released the following statement.
“The actions captured on this video are obviously disturbing,” MTSU athletic director Chris Massaro said in the statement. “We welcome the inquiry by the Rutherford County Pet Adoption and Welfare Services.
“We have high expectations of conduct of our student-athletes. Coach (Rick) Stockstill has suspended these players until the inquiry is complete and they will perform community service to the benefit of local animal welfare efforts.”
A person was able to record the video from an iPad before the video disappeared, as they always do after a 24-hour period on the social media network.
Vanderbilt opens this coming season at Middle Tennessee on Sept. 2, and the Blue Raiders have been a regular non conference opponent for the SEC since the turn of the century.
MTSU has played 24 games against the league since 2000, including four contests over the last two years. Last season, Middle Tennessee notched a 51-45 win over Missouri but lost to Vandy. In 2015, they faced the Commodores and Crimson Tide, losing to both.
Head coach Rick Stockstill issued this statement to WSMV about the incident:
“I am aware of the situation and have talked to the players involved. The players explained to me that the puppy urinated inside, and they were simply spanking it as a form of discipline. They told me there was never any intent to harm the dog. This was an important teaching moment. I talked to them about other approaches that should have been considered in this situation. And I pointed out how disciplining a pet in such a manner could be misconstrued, especially with the impact of social media.
There’s no word yet on any possible suspension for Alvarez or Akins, who have not been arrested or charged in this case. The puppy did not belong to either player.