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University of New Mexico soccer coach suspended for week over hazing

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Aug. 20, 2014: University of New Mexico athletic director Paul Krebs, left, discusses a hazing incident involving the women's soccer team as head coach Kit Vela sits beside him during a news conference in Albuquerque, N.M. (AP)

The University of New Mexico women's soccer coach Kit Vela has been suspended for a week without pay and 22 players will be suspended for one game over a hazing incident.

Athletic director Paul Krebs told the Albuquerque Journal he expects Vela's suspension to begin immediately, but university policy dictates she has 10 days to appeal.

Krebs says assistant coaches Jorge Vela and Krista Foo will receive letters of reprimand. The Lobos also forfeited the team's season-opening match against Texas Tech University Friday, resulting in a $5,000 fine against the school. 

School officials say the hazing involved seven true freshmen and two were taken to the hospital for excessive alcohol consumption. The incident occurred on Aug. 17 when campus police were called to a dormitory and found a highly intoxicated freshmen player who was having difficulty breathing had to be rushed to the hospital, Reuters reported. 

In a statement released by the university Vela took responsibility for the conduct of the team and accepted the suspension, but denied any knowledge of hazing. 

"We believe the disciplinary measures we have taken today send a clear message about the gravity of the incident, and that it is unacceptable and will not be tolerated," Krebs said in a statement, according to Reuters. 

The allegations include that freshmen on the team were sprayed with urine, forced to strip naked and consume large amounts of alcohol. Krebs said to his knowledge, the players denied the report that anyone was naked and "there is no evidence of anybody throwing urine." 

Krebs said an investigation of the incident revealed that a majority of the team were consuming alcohol at more than one location Aug. 17, but that none were forced to drink. 

Twin sisters Danielle and Devin Scelsi quit the team Monday, withdrew from school and returned to their home in Orange, County California. 

The father of a former player on the team told KOB TV that his daughter faced a similar situation during her time on the team. He told the station his daughter dreamed of playing Division 1 soccer, but was met with similar treatment. 

The Lobos now will open their season on Sept. 5 against Marquette in the Colorado College Invitational in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.