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UNLV, fraternity suspend chapter after fatal boxing event

December 2, 2021 GMT

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The fraternity that organized a charity boxing match where a University of Nevada, Las Vegas student competitor collapsed and later died of head injuries has been suspended both by the school and its national organization pending the outcome of investigations.

Kappa Sigma executive Mitchell Wilson said the international office began a review Monday of “whether Kappa Sigma’s internal policies and standards of conduct were followed” by the UNLV chapter.

“Kappa Sigma Fraternity expects all of our chapters to conform with all applicable state and local laws,” Wilson said in a statement Thursday.

UNLV President Keith Whitfield issued his order late Wednesday for the school’s oldest fraternity to “cease all operations and activities.”

“Its status as a registered student organization is revoked pending the outcome of an investigation by the university and its Office of Student Conduct,” Whitfield said.

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Nathan Tyler Valencia, a 20-year-old junior from Las Vegas, died Nov. 23, four days after he collapsed at the boxing event at an off-campus venue in Las Vegas.

Attorneys Ryan Zimmer and Nick Lasso, representing Valencia’s parents, called suspending the fraternity “a step in the right direction” and said the family is cooperating with investigators. Valencia’s mother has said her son had no previous boxing experience.

Zimmer and Lasso have said witnesses told them there were no paramedics or medical personnel at the venue and that the man who served as referee of Valencia’s fight was recorded on video drinking from a beer can.

The Clark County coroner ruled his death from head trauma a homicide. Las Vegas police cleared the venue of wrongdoing and called Valencia’s death tragic, but said it was not a criminal act and no charges would be filed.

The Nevada Athletic Commission, which regulates what Nevada law terms “contests and exhibitions of unarmed combat,” launched its own investigation.

Commission Chairman Stephen J. Cloobeck said the agency never had involvement in boxing matches hosted for several years by Kappa Sigma.

The UNLV Kappa Sigma Facebook page listed this year’s “Fight Night” on Nov. 19 as its 10th annual and said the event raised more than $100,000 over the years. It called the exhibition “an exhilarating fundraiser where various students of all different backgrounds volunteer to participate to fight in a 3-round mixed martial arts match.”

Money raised was for Center Ring Boxing, a Las Vegas-area youth boxing organization. Telephone messages left this week with Center Ring Boxing were not immediately returned.

Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Melody Rose said Wednesday the state university Board of Regents planned to assist authorities’ investigations.

The Kappa Sigma chapter at UNLV dates to 1967 and was the first fraternity on campus, according to a university website. UNLV now has about three dozen social fraternities and sororities.

Kappa Sigma dates to 1869 at the University of Virginia. It is one of the largest fraternities in the world with more than 300 active chapters and colonies in North America.

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This story has been corrected to show that the details about “Fight Night” came from the fraternity’s Facebook page, not its website.