Justin Akins, Shalom Alvarez off Middle Tennessee team amid animal cruelty investigation

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Middle Tennessee has dismissed two football players who are under investigation for possible animal cruelty that circulated on a Snapchat video.

The Blue Raiders announced Friday that defensive lineman Justin Akins and linebacker Shalom Alvarez are no longer on the team. They had been suspended Wednesday. One week earlier, Murfreesboro police were contacted by someone who had seen video on Akins' Snapchat account showing him hitting a puppy four times.

Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill said in a statement that "their actions were in violation of the values and standards of our program." Stockstill said he spoke "with authorities with the appropriate expertise" before making the decision.

Akins played in 13 games last season and made 27 tackles. Alvarez joined the team but didn't play last year.