Pistol Pete suspended one game

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Pistol Pete's ill-advised bull ride has earned the New Mexico State mascot some time away from the court.

Pistol Pete has been suspended by the Western Athletic Conference for one game for scuffling with Utah State's Big Blue at the WAC tournament in Reno, Nev., earlier this month.

WAC commissioner Karl Benson said the suspension will be served for New Mexico State's first men's home conference game during the 2009-10 season.

The incident occurred near the end of a semifinal matchup between New Mexico State and Utah State on March 13.

The bull confronted Pistol Pete and ripped off his fake mustache after a fan wearing a Nevada shirt offered $100 to the student in the costume, modeled after Paul Bunyan's Blue Ox, if he would do so.

The cowboy then chased the bull to half court, jumped on his back and tried unsuccessfully to pull him to the floor. He then started to try to choke his rival before retreating to his end of the court.

Big Blue was suspended for the championship game the following day.

Benson said the WAC has made it a point to promote good sportsmanship.

"Our players, coaches, administrators and all support personnel fall under these policies as we try to set good examples for our fans," Benson said.

New Mexico State athletic director McKinley Boston said the suspension was harsh but agreed with emphasizing sportsmanship.

"I think that the penalty doesn't necessarily fit the crime, but I am in an agreement with the commissioner. I just think a reprimand would have been appropriate, but it is what it is," Boston said.

The student who portrays Pistol Pete won't make that mistake again, Boston said.

"We discussed it ... and it was a learning opportunity for him. Sometimes you have to turn the other cheek and grow from it," Boston said.

Both schools have declined to release the name of the students who serve as the mascots.