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New Mexico State University Basketball Players File Hazing Lawsuit

— April 20, 2023

In their lawsuit, the two New Mexico State University basketball players claim that they were repeatedly hazed and sexually assaulted.

Two former New Mexico State University men’s basketball team players have filed an “explosive” lawsuit against ex-coach Greg Heiar, three former teammates, and other school athletics officials, alleging that they were sexually harassed, assaulted, and hazed.

According to CNN, the lawsuit was filed by former N.M.S.U. players William Benjamin and Shakiru Odunew.

In their complaint, the two athletes say that they were hazed and sexually assaulted by the three former teammates named as defendants in the claim.

While both men say that they reported the alleged hazing incidents to university athletics staff, no action was ever taken.

The lawsuit recalls an incident in which Odunewu says that he was “attacked” and “sexually assaulted” by the three players while traveling on a team bus during a road trip.

Odunewu reported the alleged assault, prompting Heiar to promise that he would investigate and issue suspensions if he found evidence of wrongdoing.

However, Heiar never took any action and the three players were not disciplined for the purported assaults.

Basketball and Basketball net
Basketball and Basketball net; image courtesy of Free-Photos via Pixabay,

New Mexico State University told CNN that, while the school does not comment on pending litigation, it is taking the allegations seriously and is conducting an ongoing investigation into the matter.

“While NMSU does not comment on pending litigation, we want to assure everyone that this issue is being taken seriously,” the university said in a statement released earlier this week. “As we announced earlier this year, the university is working with Greenberg Traurig to look into these allegations. Their work is underway and running in parallel to our own internal investigation into this matter.”

Heiar, writes CNN, was fired in February after the university announced that the entire men’s basketball program would be suspended over hazing allegations.

Dan E. Arvizu, a chancellor for the university, told CNN that discipline and accountability was “clearly needed.”

“This action is clearly needed, especially after receiving additional facts and reviewing investigation reports related to the hazing allegations involving student-athletes on the team,” Arvizu told CNN in February. “Hazing has no place on our campus, and those found responsible will be held accountable for their actions.”

“We must uphold the safety of our students and the integrity of our university,” he said. “It’s time for this program to reset.”

CNN notes that, while New Mexico State University has not provided any details about the hazing allegations, a member of the basketball team told police officers that he had been subjected to “ongoing hazing” while “in the men’s basketball locker room.”

The hazing, the athlete said, had been ongoing for at least several months.

The lawsuit states that neither Benjamin nor Odunewu will continue playing for the university once its basketball program resumes next season.


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

Two New Mexico State men’s basketball players file lawsuit over hazing and sexual assault allegations

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