An investigation conducted by an independent contractor hired by New Mexico State University (NMSU) has found that three former men’s basketball players violated the school’s sexual harassment policies. The investigation report, obtained by the Las Cruces Sun-News, states that the players violated NMSU’s Title IX policies regarding sexual harassment, fondling, and conduct resulting in a hostile environment that interferes with a victim’s academic or work performance.
The former players and other parties involved have the right to appeal the determination, although it is unclear if any appeals have been filed at this time. The independent contractor noted in the notice of determination that the players’ conduct would have warranted expulsion if they were still subject to NMSU jurisdiction.
This development comes after a series of incidents that have marred the NMSU basketball program. Last year, a deadly shooting occurred on a rival campus in retaliation for a brawl that broke out during a football game. Additionally, a hazing scandal led to the cancellation of the previous basketball season, the termination of the previous head coach, and the implementation of safeguards to prevent similar incidents in the future.
In June, NMSU agreed to pay $8 million to settle a lawsuit involving two basketball players, Deuce Benjamin and Shak Odunewu, who alleged that they were sexually assaulted by their teammates. The lawsuit described instances of being ganged up on and assaulted, with one player reporting the incidents to campus police. The subsequent investigation revealed two instances of possible Title IX violations reported to the Office of Institutional Equity.
Joleen Youngers, who represented the Benjamin family in the lawsuit, stated that the Title IX notice of determination vindicated their claims. The notice outlined the former players’ routine humiliation of a fellow player by forcing them to perform tasks while partially undressed in front of others. Nonconsensual touching was also mentioned in the notice.
The state attorney general’s office is currently investigating possible criminal charges in connection with the case.