Texas State president suspends all fraternity, sorority activities in wake of pledge's death

Phi Kappa Psi under investigation for allegations of misbehavior since Oct. 4

By Cory McCord - Digital News Editor , Mariah Medina - Digital Journalist
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SAN MARCOS, Texas - Authorities believe alcohol may have played a factor in the death of a 20-year-old Texas State University student.

Friends found Matthew McKinley Ellis unresponsive about 11:35 a.m. Monday at the Millennium Apartments, according to the San Marcos Police Department.

Authorities said Ellis was a pledge for Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. He was pronounced dead at 12:28 p.m.

An autopsy has been ordered. Investigators believe alcohol may have been a factor in his death, but are awaiting toxicology results from the autopsy, which is expected to take 6-8 weeks.

Ellis was an active student at Texas State University and lived on campus. He was staying at the off-campus apartment complex with four other fraternity members. It is not clear if they are members of the fraternity where Ellis was pledging.

WATCH: San Marcos Police Department provides updates on student's death

During a press conference on Tuesday, authorities said it is too early to tell if Ellis' death is a result of hazing.

Authorities also said they believe the drinking was done at a private fraternity event, not in public.

University spokesperson Matt Flores said the university is investigating whether the fraternity held any social events preceding Ellis' death.

Flores confirmed that the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity has been under investigation by the university since Oct. 4. The investigation stems from allegations of misbehavior within the fraternity. 

The initial complaint was brought to Greek Affairs' attention on Sept. 21 and a formal review was launched Oct. 4. It is an ongoing review.

Texas State's Greek organizations must register all social events through the Greek Affairs Office. Phi Kappa Psi did not have any registered social event the day before Ellis' death, according to an online calendar of approved social events.

The Texas State fraternity switched its Twitter account to private after Ellis' death.

The Phi Kappa Psi headquarters released a statement on Tuesday stating it had suspended the chapter last week for "unrelated matters" and had advised members of the fraternity to cooperate fully with investigators.

If it is determined that Ellis' death is hazing related, charges could range from providing alcohol to a minor to manslaughter.

No arrests have been made at this time.

Texas State University President Denise Trauth released the following statement Tuesday:

As president of Texas State University, I am deeply saddened by the tragic death of one of our students who attended an off-campus social event on Sunday evening hosted by members of a university fraternity. Following a call from friends, officers with the San Marcos Police Department found Matthew Ellis, a Phi Kappa Psi pledge, unresponsive on Monday morning at an apartment off campus. He was pronounced dead after EMS personnel were unable to revive him.   My thoughts are with his family, friends, and the Texas State Community.

As a result of this tragedy, I have suspended activities of all Greek fraternity and sorority chapters at Texas State.  These chapters are prohibited from holding new-member events, chapter meetings, social functions, and philanthropic activities until a thorough review of the Greek Affairs system is completed. 

I have asked Dr. Joanne Smith, Vice President for Student Affairs, who has responsibility for the Greek Affairs system, to immediately initiate this review and propose recommendations for reinstating fraternity and sorority chapters that demonstrate a commitment to the core values of Texas State and the ideals established by their respective national organizations.

It is imperative that our entire university community develop a  culture that places the highest priority on the safety of its students, faculty, and staff.  

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