New Mexico State coach Greg Heiar takes responsibility for basketball program in first comments since shooting

Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News
Greg Heiar coaches his players during NMSU's first day of basketball practice Sept. 27.

LAS CRUCES - In his first comments to media since a deadly shootout that involved a New Mexico State men's basketball player, coach Greg Heiar took responsibility for the program and offered condolences to a deceased University of New Mexico student.

NMSU forward Mike Peake, 21, returned fire, according to police documents, fatally shooting UNM student Brandon Travis, 19, on the UNM campus about 3 a.m. Nov. 19. Peake and the basketball team were in Albuquerque to play the UNM Lobos. The shooting resulted in the cancellation of the two NMSU men's basketball games against the rival Lobos this season.

Heiar spoke Tuesday in a news conference on the NMSU campus, ahead of the Aggies hosting another rival, UTEP. That game tips off at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Pan American Center.

"I'm apologetic about what happened, I take full responsibility for what happened," Heiar said. "We are going to continue to get better as a basketball team and put a great product on the court. I take full responsibility. I can't say anything more than that."

Heiar read a prepared statement on Tuesday and addressed Peake, one of only two players who returned to play for the Aggies this year and who was a starter the two regular season games before the shooting.

"Unfortunately, the decisions that Mike Peake made last weekend (Nov. 19) resulted in consequences that he will have to live with for the rest of his life," he said, adding Peake is "still part of our family."

"Right now he needs us more than ever," Heiar said. "We do not currently have an update on his status, but right now the focus regarding Mike is on his recovery."

Heiar deferred to administration's statements last week regarding discipline for NM State basketball players, who have been identified in an Oct. 15 brawl at Aggie Memorial Stadium that police believe is the genesis of the discord between the shooters, or reveal how many players, or which players, also broke curfew in Albuquerque last weekend.

More:New Mexico State athletics director hopes recent events don't diminish basketball team's image

"I will say we found out we had multiple players out of their rooms that night (Nov. 19) and we are now confident that each of our players fully understand what is expected of them moving forward," Heiar said.

The team returned to action the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, going 1-1 in a tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada. Heiar said the floor of the hotel where the team stayed was under surveillance. He said he has implemented changes more broadly to his program, but declined to elaborate on what will change moving forward.

New Mexico State announced enhanced security measures for the UTEP game. The university will use metal detectors at each entrance.

In the first Battle of I-10 game this year, UTEP defeated NMSU 67-64 in El Paso on Nov. 12.

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Jason Groves can be reached at or @jpgroves on Twitter.