LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KTSM) – The two former New Mexico State basketball players who filed a lawsuit alleging hazing and sexual assault against three of their former teammates say that the abuse was extended to include other players and even assistant coaches.
According to a report by ESPN – which interviewed Deuce Benjamin and Shakiru Odunewu after a press conference in Las Cruces on Wednesday – the two players told ESPN that the three players who allegedly assaulted them pulled down assistant coaches’ pants in public on multiple occasions.
“After the [game] at UTEP, when we lost, they pantsed one of the assistants,” Benjamin told ESPN. According to the report, one assistant coach had his pants pulled down while he slept on the bus and another was targeted but yelled enough to prevent the three players from following through.
“[Other coaches acted] like they didn’t see it,” Benjamin told ESPN.
KTSM has reached out to representatives for both Benjamin and Odunewu to attempt to interview them, but those requests have been denied to this point. An attorney for Benjamin told KTSM that she couldn’t comment on the ESPN article.
The two players were not made available for questions from the media at large at Wednesday’s press conference, instead giving prepared statements.
The lawsuit says that the three players named in the lawsuit – Kim Aiken Jr., Doctor Bradley and Deshawndre Washington – may have targeted at least two other people inside the NMSU men’s basketball program. However, Odunewu told ESPN that the trio targeted, “just about everyone,” at least once and the more frequent or severe assaults were saved for the individuals who pushed back.
“These other guys (Aiken Jr., Bradley and Washington), I feel like they manipulated them to believe that if they came out, that they were snitching,” Odunewu told ESPN.
Odunewu also said a similar thing in Wednesday’s press conference, saying he was nervous to speak out inititally about the alleged assaults.
“Being Muslim, you approach situations and look at situations differently,” Odunewu said. “I was scared that if I did come out … I was going to mess with these people’s careers. But it just got to a point where I just couldn’t bear it anymore.”
The alleged assaults and harassment happened often enough, and treated so casually, that Benjamin told ESPN that he assumed it was a part of college basketball as a whole. He said he began smoking marijuana to cope with the stress.
However, when his father and NMSU Hall of Fame basketball player Wiliiam Benjamin Sr., caught him with marijuana, he opened up about what had been going on.
It was at that point that the elder Benjamin went to NMSU police on Feb. 10, resulting in the cancellation of the season and the firing of head coach Greg Heiar.
At the news conference on Wednesday, William Benjamin said that his son and family had been failed.
As a father, I feel like I failed my son for putting him in this situation,” Benjamin said on Wednesday.
Both players have entered the NCAA transfer portal, but have yet to find a new home. They plan to petition the NCAA for another year of eligibility.