June 16, 2024

Two former New Mexico State basketball players and a student manager filed a lawsuit Monday saying their teammates frequently brought guns into the locker room where they sexually assaulted players as a way of ensuring everyone on the team remained “humble.”

Kyle Feit, along with a teammate and student manager who did not want their names used, filed the lawsuit in district court in Las Cruces, New Mexico, against the school; its athletic director, Mario Moccia; and former coaches and players. All but Moccia were fired or left last season; Moccia received a contract extension and a raise.

The lawsuit was filed the same day as the Aggies’ 2023-24 season opener at Kentucky.

Feit revealed his name, the lawsuit says, because “his interest in speaking out and holding all of the defendants accountable outweighs his desire to protect his personal privacy interests.”

Some of the allegations — that players would sexually assault teammates after forcing them to pull their pants down — were similar to those made in a lawsuit the school settled earlier this year with former players Shak Odunewu and Deuce Benjamin, along with Benjamin’s father, for an amount totaling $8 million.

The new lawsuit claims that in addition to team members being assaulted in much the same way as Benjamin and Odunewu, guns were a regular presence in the locker room and elsewhere on campus and on team trips. The lawsuit describes Feit as having guns pointed at him from inside car windows three times as he was walking across campus.

Guns are not allowed on New Mexico State’s campus, nor on trips involving school activities. The school’s enforcement of that rule came under increased scrutiny when former player Mike Peake 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.

After the Peake shooting, the lawsuit says, “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.”

The lawsuit says Feit, who previously played at Arizona State and was featured in some of New Mexico State’s early-season promotional materials in 2022, was on the verge of quitting the team before administrators abruptly canceled the season in February.

The lawsuit says Feit was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder while at New Mexico State. He moved away from campus and earlier this year signed with a pro team in Israel. He has since returned home due to the war in the region.

“His PTSD was triggered by the war in Israel, resulting in him living in constant fear and worsening his condition,” the lawsuit says.

New Mexico State spokesman Justin Bannister said the school does not comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit was filed less than a week after the revelation that the same three players who were named in the lawsuit were found responsible for sexual misconduct, according to a Title IX investigation spearheaded by the school.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reported that the investigation determined the players, as a way of making sure their teammates stayed “humble,” would demand other players pull down their pants and expose their genitals, while also sometimes grabbing those players’ genitals.

All three plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege the players did similar things to them.

“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.”

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