Former New Mexico State men’s basketball players file lawsuit over hazing allegations

In various instances throughout the previous year, Kim Aiken Jr., Doctor Bradley, and DeShawndre Washington engaged in the mistreatment and humiliation of their ex-teammates – freshman guard Deuce Benjamin and redshirt freshman forward Shakiru Odunewu, who courageously came forward as victims in the hazing controversy. The details of this misconduct were disclosed in a lawsuit filed in a New Mexico state court on Wednesday.

The lawsuit alleges that the New Mexico State Board of Regents, former assistant Dominique Taylor, and former head coach Greg Heiar were negligent. Benjamin’s father, William, is the third plaintiff in the case.

The lawsuit asserts, “Other individuals, such as student athletes, should also have the right to be free from offensive and harmful contact on college campuses.”

Universities and coaches often fail to take adequate action to stop or prevent the abusive behavior of their student athletes. Instead, they view it as a rite of initiation, even when the behavior continues for months.

“But “we want to ensure everyone that this matter is being treated seriously,” New Mexico State stated that it does not provide input on ongoing legal proceedings.”

“In the declaration, the educational institution stated, ‘The college is collaborating with Greenberg Traurig to examine these accusations, as we previously declared this year.’ ‘Their efforts are currently in progress and occurring simultaneously with our internal inquiry into this issue’.”

Aiken, Bradley, and Washington did not promptly reply to inquiries for remarks.

Attempts to contact Taylor and Heiar, who were terminated in March, were unsuccessful.

The lawsuit was obtained by Las Cruces Sun-News.

The lawsuit claims that in one occurrence, the three ex-players, who are named as defendants, confronted Odunewu while he was showering and instructed him to “perform squats” as they playfully hit his buttocks. Additionally, the lawsuit states that in another incident in November, on the team bus, they allegedly squeezed his scrotum, slapped him, and pinned him to the ground.

Benjamin claims that the three older players would frequently engage in the act of grabbing his scrotum and twisting it, as well as slapping his buttocks, exposing, and pulling his shorts down, usually prior to practice or training sessions. Deuce Benjamin, whose father was a prominent figure on the court for the Aggies during the late 80s and early 90s, asserts that he experienced similar mistreatment.

The lawsuit claims, “The assaults occurred frequently, and he experienced a constant sense of fear for the next one.” He felt completely helpless and never gave his consent.

As per the legal action, Benjamin informed his father regarding the occurrences and later notified the university authorities after his father observed something unusual with his son.

Heiar was fired from the university he had promised to investigate a few days later. A police report prompted New Mexico State University to shut down its men’s basketball program and put its coaching staff on administrative leave.

Brandon Travis, a UNM student, was fatally shot, while his left leg suffered a gunshot injury. Peake, an Aggies player, engaged in a gunfight with a University of New Mexico student on Nov. 19, shortly after the initiation accusations emerged.

The police handed over the firearm and electronic device to the assistant basketball coaches, who eventually ended up giving them to Peake’s teammates. Prior to the arrival of the police, a few of Peake’s teammates had already reached the location, and Peake had placed his weapon and tablet in the trunk of their vehicle, which was observed by authorities in the surveillance footage. This occurrence attracted additional examination.

The two controversies have led to a complete restructuring of the Aggies’ men’s basketball program, and a nearly total departure of players.

In the previous month, Odunewu stepped into the gateway. “Because of the deeds of other individuals (which I won’t delve into at this moment) that aspiration transformed into a horrifying experience,” however, he expressed on social media that, being a native youngster, it had always been his ambition to compete for the Aggies. Benjamin, the recipient of the 2021 Gatorade New Mexico Boys Player of the Year award, declared on Tuesday that he had joined the transfer gateway.

As of Wednesday evening, the online roster for the Aggies’ 2023-24 season listed two of his assistants and the new head coach Jason Hooten, with no players.