Rivalry games are always a big thing when it comes to college athletics. For New Mexico State and New Mexico, there have been 225 rivalry games in the Rio Grande Rivalry.
But, prior to the first game in the 2022 Rio Grande Rivalry, an incident took place that put the rivalry series on hold.
And the theory is that the rivalry series may not be played for quite a few years.
Whether or not the series takes place in the future is not the focus of No. 8 in the top stories of 2022.
The focus is on an unfortunate situation that took place in the early morning Nov. 19, just hours before tip off between the Lobos and Aggies at The Pit.
Aggie basketball player Mike Peake was lured out of the team hotel after hours. The thought, per reports, was that Peake was meeting up with a 17-year-old girl to have sex. Instead, it was a set up to ambush Peake on the campus of New Mexico.
Three people come out of the shadows and attack Peake. One of the assailants hits Peake with a bat. And as Peake is trying to escape, another assailant pulls out a gun and fires at Peake, hitting him in the leg. Peake, who was carrying a firearm himself, turns to return fire. And in that return fire, the 19-year-old UNM student who was firing at Peake, was hit and died on the scene.
The incident was a revenge plot by the UNM students. For a fight at a football game between the two schools one more earlier.
According to the 17-year-old girl, the plan was to lure Peake out of his hotel room. And then jump him in retaliation for the fight at the football game. In that same interview, the 17-year-old stated that bring a gun was not part of the plan.
But, there was a gun. Multiple guns, in fact.
And after the shooting, things got strange. First, Peake is seen meeting up with people who drive up in a yellow Camaro. Reports are that teammates Issa Muhammad, Chi Chi Avery and Anthony Roy were in the Camaro.
Then we have seen the interview footage put out by local media from El Paso to Albuquerque. Police interview Aggie head coach Greg Heiar. Associate head coach Dominique Taylor speaks with police. The police had to meet up with the New Mexico State team bus that left Albuquerque. There were questions about the Mike Peake’s gun, tablet and phone.
There was a search warrant served at the Pan Am Center. Mike Peake was suspended indefinitely and Issa Muhammad, Chi Chi Avery and Anthony Roy were all suspended for one game.
It was all a sticky situation from the outset. And while reporting has toned down a bit since those early hours on Nov. 19, there are still questions.
We won’t put some of those out there.
But, it’s highly likely Mike Peake’s basketball career is over. At least at New Mexico State. It’s also safe to say there is a dark cloud hanging over a successful college basketball program. And, there are still layers to peel off the onion in the story.
Rivalry games are fun. But sometimes, fans and players can go a bit overboard, which seems to be the case in this unfortunate situation.