An Albuquerque law firm is recommending New Mexico State University shore up its policies surrounding weapons, team curfews and coaches communicating with law enforcement.
The recommendations were included in an executive summary of an investigation in the wake of a fatal shooting of a University of New Mexico student by an NMSU basketball player on the UNM campus in November. NMSU released the summary on Thursday.
The Rodey Law Firm was retained to complete the review after Mike Peake, a forward on the basketball team, broke curfew and was involved in a shooting on campus that killed a UNM student in the early morning hours the day of the Lobo-Aggie rivalry game. Police have said that Peake acted in self defense after he was jumped by three UNM students. Peake was lured to campus by a female student who was friends with the UNM students, police say.
Peake, who was hit in the leg, killed UNM student Brandon Travis in a shootout around 3 a.m. outside a dorm complex.
The law firm’s recommendations for NMSU include:
- Create more detailed policies outlining consequences for breaking team curfews during out-of-town trips.
- Put in place a more detailed weapons policy
- Outline how coaches should communicate with law enforcement investigating possible crimes by student athletes.
- Implement measures to “strengthen a culture that encourages student athletes to adhere to the integrity and values of NMSU at all times.”
The Rodey law firm reviewed various NMSU policies and interviewed relevant witnesses, performed research and analyzed publicly available reports from law enforcement and media, among outher things. Several players and coaches who the firm requested to speak with refused to be interviewed.
“We also did not identify any such violations of NCAA or WAC rules,” the firm wrote in the summary. “Moreover, from an institutional perspective, we did not identify any failure by NMSU to meet its legal obligations in managing its student athletes.”
NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu said in a letter to the NMSU community on Thursday the law firm’s investigation of the shooting did not identify any failures by the university to meet its legal obligations. He did say the university will soon announce a task force to work with the NMSU administration and Board of Regents to address the firm’s recommendations.
“We’re sharing this information with our campus community to show our commitment to transparency and to behin working together to implement the recommendations in the report,” Arvizu said in the letter. “We said from the beginning, if this review highlights opportunities for improvement, we will pursue those.”
The attack on Peake by UNM students on Nov. 19, 2022, was allegedly in retaliation for a fight he was involved in during the Lobo-Aggie football game in Las Cruces in October, police have said.
Surveillance video of the shooting showed Peake’s teammates Issa Muhammad, Anthony Roy and Marchelus Avery arriving at the scene soon after the shooting and allegedly leaving with their teammate’s firearm and tablet before police arrived.
The police investigation revealed NMSU players were out late the night of the shooting, and the team left on a bus back to Las Cruces the next morning while police were still trying to obtain the firearm that Peake used and talk to his teammates allegedly in possession of evidence.
NMSU has faced criticism about the players being out past curfew, how and why a student athlete would bring a gun on a road trip and the coaches’ interaction with police and their failure to produce the weapon immediately.
Charges were brought against UNM students in connection with the shooting, and the district attorney’s office has also announced that they are reviewing the actions of NMSU players and employees.
Following the shooting, Peake was dismissed from the team for violations of team rules and Muhammad, Roy and Avery were each suspended for one game.
The Aggies continued to play until mid February, when NMSU canceled the remainder of the basketball season and fired first-year coach Greg Heiar for cause amid a hazing scandal. The hazing scandal wasn’t related to the shooting, school officials have said.