Aggies coach targeted with more complaints to AG - Albuquerque Journal

Aggies coach targeted with more complaints to AG

NMSU coach Doug Martin is accused of pressuring injured Aggies to play and making them practice in dangerous weather conditions, according to anonymous letters sent to the Attorney General.

LAS CRUCES — More complaints against New Mexico State University football coach Doug Martin have surfaced, according to the Office of the Attorney General.

In a statement to the Sun-News from the AG’s Office, eight separate complaints have been made regarding Martin, who has been the Aggies’ head coach for the past seven seasons.

The additional complaints come amid a university investigation that began following a Nov. 27 complaint in the form of an anonymous letter to the AG’s Office detailing a number of allegations:

n Martin put students in peril by requiring them to practice under dangerous conditions.

n Martin instructed students to play when injured and to avoid trainers on staff.

n Disparate treatment of minority student athletes, nepotism and hiring disparities were alleged.

Martin responded to those allegations saying in part: “It comes from a single disgruntled parent who has a kid that was not getting to play.”

In a letter dated Dec. 16 from the AG’s Office to NMSU General Counsel, two more complaints were specified in regard to the university’s investigation.

n Martin is alleged to have made injured student athletes wear orange clothing, resembling those worn by inmates at correctional facilities.

n Martin threatened to revoke the scholarships of players based on their inability to perform due to injury

Also, according to documents obtained through a records request, complaints include the suggestion that the athletic department and administration were made aware of complaints and failed to act.

“We take any complaint that an individual registers seriously no matter what sport or what the issue is,” New Mexico State athletics director Mario Moccia said. “We look into every complaint that comes from the outside.”

Moccia declined to comment further on any of the mentioned complaints, citing the ongoing university investigation: “We are going to let the investigation take its course and then after that, I’m sure we will have much more to say,” he said.

This week, Martin directly addressed one of the recent complaints, as well as strongly denying any wrongdoing in a statement to the Sun-News.

“It’s easy to smear people with false accusations while you hide behind anonymity. We have the truth and solid clear evidence that will end all this nonsense.”

A university spokesperson also declined to comment.

As of Dec. 21, the AG’s Office had conducted interviews with four parties, in addition to receiving four written complaints about the football program,” a spokesperson said.

The AG spokesperson said the identity of the eight individuals will remain confidential due to a “credible fear of retaliation for coming forward.”

The university has an existing contract with Las Cruces attorney Raul A. Carrillo and the Carrillo Law firm to investigate such matters and respond on its behalf. As of Thursday, neither the football coaching staff, athletics administration or training staff have met with investigators.

Several of Martin’s former players have come to his defense on social media, including Aggies on the 2019 roster. Meanwhile, NMSU says its football team is one of four FBS programs not to have a player in the transfer portal (along with Clemson, Syracuse and North Texas).

In a statement to the Sun-News on Thursday, Martin highlighted several instances defending his relationships with players.

For example, “When (senior wide receiver) OJ Clark had surgery on his broken leg to put a rod in his leg, he stayed at my house to recover and when he would throw up in bed because of the anesthesia, (Martin’s wife Vicki Martin) and I cleaned it up and cared for him until he could care for himself. It was an honor to do this because he is our Aggie family,” Martin said.

“People that smear other people do so because they will never have the relationships that my family has with players and other coaches. I know who I am and what a great family I have and these lies will never touch us.”

The complaints

n Martin has put students in peril by requiring them to practice under dangerous conditions, per two anonymous letters.

In one dated Nov. 27, the writer describes an incident during the past season in which, “the trainers, who are responsible for warning the team of (lightning) issues, told Coach Martin, they needed to ‘leave the field’ because of the proximity of the lightning. Coach Martin refused to leave, berated the staff and remained on the field placing the student/athlete’s safety in jeopardy.”

n NMSU insisted players play when injured and instructing players to not see the trainers on staff.

Three letters of complaint made these allegations. One came from a parent of a former player, who graduated in 2015. “He was injured and played hurt his senior year. Our son did not complain to us or talk to about it very much, but did say that Coach Martin told him ‘are you going to play or do I take away your Captaincy.'”

n Allegations of disparate treatment of minority student-athletes, nepotism and hiring disparities.

n Martin is alleged to have made injured student-athletes wear orange clothing, resembling those worn by inmates at correctional facilities.

The Nov. 27 complaint accuses Martin of creating “a culture of intimidation and consistent racist overtones for the players of color at NMSU.”

The complaints listed the ratio of black coaches to players as two African-American assistant coaches on a 10-person coaching staff for a roster that is “close to 70 percent African-American.”

According to an NCAA Demographics Database, 85 percent of FBS head coaches were white in 2018; 80 percent of FBS offensive coordinators were white; 73 percent of FBS defensive coordinators were white; 52 percent of assistant coaches were white and 36 percent of student-athletes were white.

The letter also detailed a spring practice last year during which injured players, “predominantly African-American, sit in the stands wearing orange t-shirts leaving the appearance that these individuals in the stands looked like criminals.”

Martin said players who had missed classes, tutor appointments or study hall, appointments with trainers or doctor or weight room responsibilities would wear orange or red shirts during offseason workouts. The colors of the shirts are the school colors of rival schools UTEP and New Mexico.

He explained the idea came from the Ohio State scout team dressing in Michigan practice uniforms during rivalry week, as well as from his time as a player at Kentucky.

He questioned the notion that orange shirts portrayed the appearance of imprisoned criminals since orange is a common color used across college athletics.

In a statement to the Sun-News on Thursday, Martin said, “Playing at Kentucky, our rival is Tennessee and when we failed to meet our team standard, we had to wear a Tennessee orange shirt. When we saw orange, we saw our hated rival and this forced us to take responsibility (for) our individual failures.”

n The Nov. 27 complaint describes nepotism on the football staff, noting that Martin’s son, Cory Martin, and Matt Christian, who is a former New Mexico State football player and dating Doug Martin’s daughter, are all employed as football coaches.

The Dec. 3 complaint also cited the presence of Martin’s wife and daughter on the sideline for home games and on the travel party for away games.

Cory Martin reports to NMSU administration. Per NMSU, all athletic hires go through a process that includes a review and approved by Human Resources and the Office of Institutional Equity.

n Martin threatened to revoke the scholarships of players based on their inability to perform due to injury.

n In a separate online submission to the AG’s office dated Nov. 27, a parent of a current player described a meeting with Martin and Moccia regarding “the conduct and threatening behavior by the NMSU Football Coach towards me and the retaliation towards my son who is a student/athlete at NMSU on the football team.”

“Upon my arrival at the University for the meeting with the coach (I recorded the entire event and have it) the meeting lasted less then 4 minutes and the coach tried to attack me by coming out of his chair and continued to attack me verbally. Upon the completion of this meeting my son has since been benched and not a coach on the team communicates with him singling him out and isolating him because of this.”

The complaint also references the athletic department and the administration, stating that, “The administration knows about this event and not only has chosen to do nothing about it but tell folks in meetings, some of which my son has attended, that they are 100% behind Coach Martin and he is the man of the future for NMSU Football.”

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