LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) – Mixed reaction at the New Mexico State University Board of Regents meeting over the new deal for embattled athletic director Mario Moccia. The school recently re-upped the AD for five years despite the scandals rocking the basketball program.

The NMSU faculty senate expressed worry over athletic director Mario Moccia’s recent contract renewal amidst the ongoing controversy surrounding the basketball team. That new five-year contract goes into effect July 1 and will up Moccia’s pay to $350,000 per year, a 70k raise. 

The timing of the extension comes in the same week that a lawsuit was filed by 2 former Aggie basketball players alleging they were hazed and sexually assaulted by older teammates. “This is affecting faculty and staff retention and recruitment and most importantly this unfortunately does affect our students,” said Gaylene Fasenko, the NMSU Faculty Senate Chair.

During the board of regents meeting on May 11, people showed up to voice their opinion. Barbara Hubbard told leaders, “Let’s be careful about what we decide today and who we decide it for. I’m betting on the students.” Many of those who spoke during public comment expressed their support of Moccia and his extension. Mickey Clute shared, “I think over the past seven years he has shown what leadership is. We’re talking about leading through tough financial times, tough operational times and we’re talking about growing the athletic department during those times.”

But in the last year controversy has plagued the university. It all started when NMSU basketball player Mike Peake brought a gun to the University of New Mexico campus during an away game in November. He was then involved in a shooting that killed a UNM student. But supporters still came to the athletic director’s defense. “I think Mario has certainly led the ship through chaos very very well and we came out on the other side,” said Maci Dickerson. 

The sexual assault allegations led to the cancellation of the basketball season and the firing of the coach. It also raised questions surrounding the athletic department’s culture and reporting tactics. “A history of lack of accountability and rewarding NMSU employees who create a toxic workplace environment. I respectfully ask our new NMSU leadership to set a new norm of holding people accountable for behavior that contributes to toxic workplace culture and the significant reduction of faculty staff morale,” Fasenko continued. 

Under Moccia’s new contract, he’ll see more pay raises with the salary in his fifth year reaching $425,000.