A pair of former New Mexico State basketball players filed a lawsuit Wednesday centered around hazing allegations that abruptly and prematurely ended the team’s 2022-23 season. Named in the suit filed by William “Deuce” Benjamin and Shakiru Odunewu, along with Benjamin’s father, are the university’s board of regents, former coach Greg Heiar, former assistant Dominique Taylor and three other former players accused of hazing and sexual assault.
Included in the 28-page filing, obtained by KTSM-TV, are detailed allegations of hazing culture with Kim Aiken Jr., Doctor Bradley and DeShawndre Washington named as the defendants.
In one alleged incident, Washington grabbed Benjamin’s scrotum in a hotel room in front of a group of women. Another allegation claims Aiken and Bradley ripped back a shower curtain on Odunewu and forced him to do squats while slapping his buttocks and videotaping the encounter. In yet another allegation, Odunewu says he was attacked and sodomized by the defendants during November bus trip to a road game.
All of the aforementioned players have entered the transfer portal, as has nearly the entirety of the Aggies roster. Heiar was fired in mid-February, and former Sam Houston State coach Jason Hooten has started the process of rebuilding the roster after being hired away from Sam Houston State in March.
Benjamin tweeted Tuesday that Hooten informed him recently that “it would be in my best interest to continue my education and basketball career elsewhere.” The Las Cruces, New Mexico, native added that he grew up a New Mexico State fan and became a ball boy for the program in middle school, which is when he knew he wanted to become a player for the program.
“Due to the actions of others (which I will not go into here) that dream changed into a nightmare,” Benjamin wrote.
In addition to the hazing allegations, New Mexico State also dealt with an off-court crisis in November when Aggies team member Mike Peake was hospitalized after a shooting on New Mexico’s campus in the early morning hours before the in-state rivals were scheduled to play. Peake was suspended for his role in the incident, which left a New Mexico student dead.
Just over a year ago, NMSU reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament after winning the WAC regular season and conference titles. Those accomplishments came under coach Chris Jans, who left for Mississippi State after the 2021-22 season. Heiar was hired as Jans’ replacement after a stint at Northwest Florida State.