Two former New Mexico State basketball players and a student manager have filed a lawsuit against the school and others, alleging that their teammates frequently brought guns into the locker room where they sexually assaulted players under the guise of the attacks serving as a team-building exercise.
The lawsuit, filed on Monday in district court in Las Cruces, New Mexico, names the school, its athletic director, Mario Moccia, and former coaches and players as defendants. All but Moccia were fired or left last season; Moccia received a contract extension and a raise.
The lawsuit claims that guns were a regular presence in the locker room and elsewhere on campus and on team trips, despite being prohibited by the school’s policy. The lawsuit describes one of the plaintiffs, Kyle Feit, as having guns pointed at him from inside car windows three times as he was walking across campus. Feit said he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder while at the school.
The lawsuit also says that Feit was on the verge of quitting the team before administrators abruptly canceled the season in February. He has since signed to play professionally with a team in Israel, though he’s back in the United States amid the war in the country.
“It became difficult for Kyle Feit to focus on basketball and he felt like he was losing his love for the sport,” the lawsuit said. “Going to the gym had always been a safe and positive place, and it was no longer. His game suffered, as did his well-being.”
Players were sexually assaulted as a way of keeping them humble, lawsuit says
The lawsuit alleges that the plaintiffs, along with two other former players who settled with the school earlier this year for a total of $8 million, were sexually assaulted by their teammates as a way of keeping them humble. The lawsuit says that the players would force their victims to pull their pants down and then insert objects into their anus or touch their genitals.
The lawsuit says that the attacks were carried out in the locker room, in hotel rooms, and on the team bus. The lawsuit says that the coaches, including then-head coach Greg Heiar, knew of the abuse but did “little, if anything” to address it.
A Title IX investigation last week found that the players who were allegedly hazing and sexually assaulting others were doing so as a way to make sure teammates stayed “humble.”
Former player shot and killed a student in self-defense, lawsuit says
The lawsuit also mentions the incident involving former player Mike Peake, who shot and killed a University of New Mexico student while the team was on a road trip in Albuquerque. Peake was not charged with a crime because video showed he was acting in self-defense.
The lawsuit says that Peake was “lured” to the UNM campus the night before their game by UNM students, who then ambushed him. Peake then shot and killed a UNM student in self-defense, and later met up with teammates and put his gun and a tablet in their car before the team left town early.
The lawsuit says that after the Peake shooting, “the presence of guns (within the team) became even more real and menacing. (Feit) knew his teammates were in fear of retribution for the shooting and the atmosphere was very tense.”
Plaintiffs seek damages and injunctive relief, lawsuit says
The lawsuit seeks damages for the plaintiffs’ physical, emotional, and financial injuries, as well as injunctive relief to prevent the school from allowing such conduct to occur again. The lawsuit also asks for a jury trial.
The school has not yet responded to the lawsuit, which was filed the same day as the Aggies’ 2023-24 season opener, at Kentucky.