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Former NMSU basketball players speak on hazing and sexual assault allegations

William "Deuce" Benjamin Jr. speaks at a press conference about his experiences within NMSU's basketball program
Jonny Coker
William "Deuce" Benjamin Jr. speaks at a press conference about his experiences within NMSU's basketball program

A press conference was held by former NMSU basketball players and their attorneys outside of NMSU’s Pan American Center. A civil lawsuit was filed last month that alleged that Shakiru Odunewu and William Benjamin Jr. were sexually assaulted by older players while playing for the school’s basketball program, and the school failed to intervene despite being aware of the assaults.

During the press conference, William “Deuce” Benjamin Jr. said that the assaults that took place scarred him.

“First it hurts, then it changes you,” he said. “There’s a part of me that hasn’t been the same now. And I want people to know that.”

One of the attorneys, Ramez Shamieh, said that he was shocked that Athletic Director Mario Moccia got a contract extension in the midst of the controversy surrounding the university, and that when they talked in February with Roy Collins III, Chief Legal Officer of NMSU, he wasn’t even aware of the allegations of hazing.

“It was almost to a point where we thought he was messing with us. We thought he knew, but that he was trying to see what we knew. He had no clue. And so I think that gives you a good idea of how the school is operating.”

Soon after the press conference, NMSU released an executive summary from law firm GreenbergTraurig’s investigation into the hazing allegations. The law firm recommended that NMSU update its training for personnel regarding hazing prevention, and that the university should retain a third-party to oversee departments responsible for hazing prevention and response.

Jonny Coker is a Multimedia Journalist for KRWG Public Media. He has lived in Southern New Mexico for most of his life, growing up in the small Village of Cloudcroft, and earning a degree in Journalism and Media Studies at New Mexico State University.
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