U. football player kicked off team, charged with assaulting wife

Niasi Leota attacked, threatened to kill woman in front of their children, police say

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  • mnsave Rigby, ID
    Feb. 26, 2013 10:07 a.m.

    Glad to see Whit taking measures the last few years. He probably watched Bronco do it impartially (Fahu Tahi - NFL caliber player - comes to mind), and decided it's a good idea. I remember when Brett Ratliff - NFL caliber player - had charges brought against him, yet Whit still let him play.

  • reasonableUTE Provo, UT
    Feb. 26, 2013 9:29 a.m.

    to those who say that Kyle Whittingham should have been more harsh in his statement:

    He said what he said because Kyle is a very caring individual. He no doubt has a personal relationship with this young man and his family. This young man did something terrible, and he was kicked off the team for it. That doesn't mean that Kyle shouldn't do whatever he can to help this young man get through whatever it is that is causing this behavior. Kyle is showing love to the sinner, and not the sin. Kyle's head and heart are in the right place.

  • reasonableUTE Provo, UT
    Feb. 26, 2013 9:20 a.m.


    I wasn't saying that BYU is God's university, nor was I saying that all BYU fans believe this. I was simply pointing out reason for some of the major bashing that goes on whenever a BYU athlete steps out of line. I do not support such action, I am not a hater of BYU, I am mormom. I attend the temple a few times a month with my wife. What I said had nothing to do with my logic, I was simply pointing out the logic of others who bash BYU. Try not to get so defensive next time ok? In my post I stated that Utah fans that bash BYU for things like this are hypocrites. Don't be so quick to jump down my throat just because I have the word "Ute" in my username. I like BYU, just not as much as my utes.

  • FromWA Olympia, WA
    Feb. 25, 2013 11:48 p.m.

    While what this guy did is serious beyond belief, abhorrent, and tragic, there is one fact forgotten. This man will be not spend the rest of his life in prison, nor is it over. While the help his wife and child need far supersede his needs, at some point this guy will likely be out of jail and has to learn to change his behavior or someone else suffers. Kyle should never condone his actions, and should speak out against them, the point remains that if this guy doesn't get some help, he will do this again. But if a team is a family, should they kick him to the curb, or try to keep his life from being a total waste? Otherwise is this a family or not? This from a Cougar.

  • Y Grad / Y Dad Richland, WA
    Feb. 25, 2013 9:44 p.m.

    BYU fans, please, this is not the time for one-upsmanship or anything else that regularly accompanies sports stories on these pages. Whit said what he had to say; but I also beleive he meant it. To a religeous man, the condemned are not for abandoning, they are for trying to redeem. This one has fallen a long, long way. Hopefully he is not out of reach and out of the reach of the Atonement.

    There is much good work that needs to be done for the mother, the children and the friend. None of it includes sports smack. Leave it alone. Find a way instead to put your energy into good works that mean something.

    Ute fans, I hope you might show the same restraint towards your brothers and sisters in blue.

  • AZUTE1 Mesa, AZ
    Feb. 25, 2013 8:34 p.m.

    "....for alleged incidents...."

    Has anybody on here stepped into private into private w/Niasi and heard HIS version-of-events?

  • Wireless Lawyer Lehi, UT
    Feb. 25, 2013 2:48 p.m.

    Sad story on so many levels.

    While some comments seem sure of the fact that this was the result of PEDs or mental illness, there's nothing in the article that would support those conclusions.

    But some things are clear. This young man has forfeited his right to represent his University and forfeited his rights as a husband and father.

    I won't criticize Coach W's comments as I read them to mean that he and the University will support the victims (wife and children) as they attempt to heal and encourage the young man as he takes responsibility for his actions, pays whatever legal price is required, and tries to build some type of productive life thereafter.

  • CWEB Orem, UT
    Feb. 25, 2013 9:03 a.m.

    Really Whit? Are you serious?

    He came close to killing her! And you think you should help them get through this? Really?

    Yikes. Talk about too involved in a stupid game. This isn't some marital counseling need. This is attempted MURDER Whit! Sheesh. I hope the university has a talk with Whit.

  • EnglishAlan Rugeley, Staffs
    Feb. 25, 2013 2:11 a.m.

    There can never be an excuse for a man beating a woman. There certainly NEVER a reason for doing such a thing in front of his chioldren, scarring them mentally for life. HOWEVER, there can never be a reason for any University to not provide continued help for that same man and his family, and I agree with Kyle Whittingham saying that U of U will continue to provide approriate help for their ex-player and his family.

    We are not talking about a car or truck ere, where we just throw the parts away that don't work. We are talking people, and making them capable of living within their community. U of U brought that man into the community, and I am pleased to hear that they will provide any help they can to re-introduce him into that community as a better man, more capable of handling any anger issues. The alternative is to provide no help, and watch him deteriorate further.

  • JRJ Pocatello, ID
    Feb. 24, 2013 9:54 p.m.

    What in the world does Bronco and BYU have to do with the report? This is inexcusable from any university, any team, any real man. I agree with whoever said you need to talk about helping his wife and family. I realize that a person is "innocent until proven guilty", but a policeman has testified he heard this guy threaten to kill his wife in front of his older children. I fear we have "worshipped" our sports figures far too much. They no longer have a real grip on life.

  • nosaerfoecioveht NSL, UT
    Feb. 24, 2013 9:32 p.m.


    No one knows more about the Ute sports section than you :)

  • RBB Sandy, UT
    Feb. 24, 2013 7:23 p.m.

    The important thing is that Kyle and Bronco will not tolerate this Kind of conduct. At some schools they would make excuses to keep him on the team until trial.

  • sammyg Springville, UT
    Feb. 24, 2013 4:32 p.m.

    Though I agree that this story is about domestic violence I find it amusing that the story is about a Ute football player, has a headline tied to the Ute football team and is not found on the Ute sports section.

    The story is conveniently buried elsewhere on the site attracting little attention.

    Had this been a BYU player this story would be in heavy rotation as a headline on the front page and the sports sections.

    Just an observation.

  • Austin Coug Pflugerville, TX
    Feb. 24, 2013 1:52 p.m.

    I agree with the sentiment that this isn't a football story and making this BYU vs. UTAH is immature and rediculous. Very tragic story.

  • nosaerfoecioveht NSL, UT
    Feb. 24, 2013 11:24 a.m.

    "Oh how sweet it is."

    Wow. A few coug "fans" have really let their true colors show this time. You are only making yourselves look foolish, and disgusting.

    Fortunately we know your words don't reflect the sentiments of most BYU fans, just as the horrible actions of this man do not reflect the standards of the university he attends.

  • nosaerfoecioveht NSL, UT
    Feb. 24, 2013 8:48 a.m.

    Stay classy, ute-haters

  • Americanvet Ivins, UT
    Feb. 24, 2013 8:08 a.m.

    It's lame to bash participating in sports and citing this incident as a reason. When doctors or accountants beat their wife's and threaten to kill will you also believe those are unworthy professions? There are bad people in all walks of life, it's just sport and celebrity figures always make the news when they do bad things.

  • DrUte Woods Cross, UT
    Feb. 24, 2013 8:01 a.m.

    Sometimes we forget that mental health issues are just as (if not more) debilitating than physical injuries. A broken leg can heal with appropriate care. A broken mind is sometimes much more difficult to mend and may have just as much --- if not more -- of a negative impact.

    The Utah football program has been described as a family; the Polynesian community here is also a wonderful, warm family; the Leotas have three children and certainly also qualify as a family.

    But there is also illness here, marked by behavior that is absolutely unacceptable in any context. And sadness for ALL the families involved.

    The real message to all of us: We see again that mental illness is in fact a form of disease. If you are involved with or if you see a similar situation, get help before the situation escalates to this level. Failure to recognize and treat a disease --- any disease --- on a timely basis can have the most dire consequences.

    Here a family has been fractured and scarred; include them in your prayers, all of them, and be sure to hug your spouse and children tonight. There but for the grace of God go you and I.

  • ekute Layton, UT
    Feb. 24, 2013 7:56 a.m.

    This guy's a monster. The response of the Utah Administration and Coaching Staff is appropriate. Now it's up to the justice system. Overall I'm impressed by the show of restraint by the byu fans. Go Utes.

  • pocyUte Pocatello, ID
    Feb. 23, 2013 11:57 p.m.

    Good grief. What do you want Kyle to say? "We are going to kick him to curb and not support us family". Would that make people feel better?

    These are real people who now have to deal with a really big issue made public. I appreciate Kyle's response because he will stand by it. He's going to do whatever he can to help Leota's family. Anyone familiar with his career and recruitment know that his family made a lot f sacrifices for Neli to get a D1 scollie. While it is true that what he did was completely unacceptable, it is also unacceptable to not provide help when possible. Kyle didn't say he would allow Neli back, or let the legal system play out then make a decision on Leota's return. He summarily dismissed him from the team. But he also said he would help him and his family. How is this equivocal? How is this anything but the proper attitude to have? Here is a young man with a young family who is on the precipice of losing it all, and many here think Kyle should push him off.

  • sammyg Springville, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 11:43 p.m.


    Interesting spin on your part bringing ethnicity and religion into this. Got an agenda and some fries with that?

    The thought of this kid being Polynesian or LDS never occurred to me until you interjected it. He's simply now a former Ute football player in jail that has some obvious anger management problems and appears to have no problem beating his wife.

    Whether or not he's a Catholic, Jew, Hindu, Sikh, Protestant, LDS, Presbyterian, or Jim Jones follower, etc. doesn't mean squat to me nor his ethnicity either. He's a person with a serious problem and I'm grateful that his wife and children survived this.

    I simply said that this guy's actions do reflect upon the Utes because he's a football player, an opinion counter to yours.

    It's a minor disagreement but it is what it is.

    Now if this kid was a BYU football player we would hear no end to this and I have no doubt that you would again interject the same religious and race cards as you have this story.

  • OCoug Ogden, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 11:08 p.m.

    Unacceptable for any man to use his physical strength to abuse both physically, verbally and emotionally. May the wife, children and friend involved be comforted at this time. I can't imagine the mixed emotions that must be present. My prayers go out to you.

  • Moderate Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 9:46 p.m.

    RE: sammyg "Sad to say that this athlete's actions reflect directly upon the Utes, the coaches, teammates, etc."

    Wow, what a point of view. He is Polynesian. Care to cast your wide net against that community? I hope the kid doesn't turn out to be LDS, or you will be back to talk about how it reflects directly on that religion.

  • Whoa Nellie American Fork, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 9:11 p.m.

    No excuse for violence like that against a woman.

    Provo, UT
    @Utes home for the holidays

    the reason that some Utah fans do this is because many BYU fans consider BYU to be "God's University."

    Name one.

  • roberto Moses Lake, WA
    Feb. 23, 2013 7:32 p.m.

    Chris B. I'm proud of you!

  • vinnyb3 Provo, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 7:28 p.m.

    "Leota is an example of the character building experiences provided by participation in sports." There could be a small correlation between violence and sports, but correlation doesn't mean causation.

  • sammyg Springville, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 7:18 p.m.


    "This story isn't about football."

    Sure it is.

    Sad to say that this athlete's actions reflect directly upon the Utes, the coaches, teammates, etc.

    The reporter was correct to identify the man as a Ute football player. It is a horrible story and situation, and I am grateful this young lady and her children are still alive.

    And by the way, Coach Whit needs to consider hiring a PR person along with the next batch of Co-OC's.

  • RockOn Spanish Fork, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 7:05 p.m.

    Big BYU fan, but this is tragic. Hate to see this happen to any wife and to see any husband so out of control. He's got a lifetime of trouble ahead of him until he gets his head together. And by the way... this has nothing to do with football, but life. Sad. Kyle will help all he can but there aren't many options but jail first for assault and battery and maybe even attempt manslaughter and then therapy. K. Whitt will do what is good and right.

  • Coach Biff Lehi, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 6:57 p.m.

    This is no time or forum for the usual drivel on these forums. This guy, no matter what team, needs to be locked away. I'm calling my fellow Y fans out on this one. I don't care that someone crowed on a former story about BYU players. Doesn't matter. Rise above that kind of trash. Prayers should go out to this young woman and her kids. Can't we all agree on that?

  • Girlse State Midvale, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 6:47 p.m.

    Whittlingham, what would you say if it was your daughter who was almost beat to death? Man up.

  • sammyg Springville, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 6:20 p.m.

    Hey Chris B,

    Is this 'innocent until proven guilty' young man what you'd call a BCS quality 'superior athlete'? Just wanted to make sure.

    Coach Whit,


  • rlsintx Plano, TX
    Feb. 23, 2013 5:56 p.m.

    Really??? I can't believe a young mother was assaulted with such malicious intent, children involved and people CARE one whit about which school the individual attends or how one school or the other gets treated and represented in the press when their own do bad things. Hopefully no fan of other school could condone any such action by anyone and has their heart 100% oriented toward the safety of the innocent. Bigger fish to fry folks; lives are at stake.

  • Bluto Sandy, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 5:55 p.m.

    Pardon me for not proofing post #1.

  • Bluto Sandy, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 5:50 p.m.

    Good Grief Whittingham...Take a "Unequivocal" stand for once.

    This wasn't simple assault.
    This was attemtpted murder.
    Big difference.

  • Bluto Sandy, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 5:42 p.m.

    "We will do everything we can to help Niasi and his family get through this situation"....

    Really Kyle?
    Bad chioice of words.
    How abuot helping his wife and her family.

    Tone deaf again, Whitt.

  • Two For Flinching Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 5:19 p.m.

    This is absolutely disgusting. I hope his family will be okay and I hope they lock Nas up for a LONG time.

    Good riddance.

  • Balan South Jordan, Utah
    Feb. 23, 2013 4:51 p.m.

    And what exactly does Bronco say that bothers you - that they are all fine young men??? My, my, my, sounds like something Whittingham or any coach at any other university might say.

    If saying that because of the honor code and expectations of the university it takes a unique individual to "qualify" to play at BYU is "bragging", then so be it. However, I have never heard Bronco characterize BYU players as morally superior to players at other universities. That, my friend, is a figment of your imagination. Bronco simply expects the same from his football players that the university expects from its students.

    Does it mean that BYU football players are somehow better people that football players at other universities? Clearly not. It just means that BYU (and Bronco) expect the students (and football players) to adhere to what they have agreed to in writing - the honor code.

  • Eddie Syracuse, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 4:37 p.m.

    Was this guy a five star recruit?

  • Are You for Real? Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 4:27 p.m.

    @Trevvor: If Bronco wasn't bragging about the moral superiority of those "fine young men" he recruits then it wouldn't be as big a deal and you wouldn't see the mocking that us classless Ute fans pile on whenever one of these "fine young men" gets in trouble.

    I would have no problem if this was preached to the team and to recruits on visits but let their actions speak for themselves otherwise it is a mighty long fall when you fall off your high horse.

  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 3:11 p.m.

    Lock him up and throw away the key!

  • Say No to BO Mapleton, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 3:03 p.m.

    @Lifelong Ute
    I agree with you 100%. Thank you for expressing it far better than I could.
    The football program has no obligation to help him after he tried to kill his wife. That's a bridge too far.

  • Lifelong Ute Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 2:19 p.m.

    "Help him and his family get through the situation"? Come on Kyle. I don't like that statement. I know you say we can't tolerate this behavior but I also don't like the "get through this" talk. It makes it sound like he just had a bad day and made an understandable mistake. Any man who beats his wife deserves to be in jail the rest of his life.

    No excuses. No exception. No we are not behind him. We don't have his back or any of that talk. I would have liked for Kyle to say "any man that lays a finger on his wife deserves a life in prison" We don't want him back on the team or at the university. This is not one of those "everybody makes mistakes " things. When someone does something this horrible, we distance ourself from that person, not claim we will "help them through this". Please forbid this kid from ever stepping foot on campus again. I don't want to hear talk of second chance garbage on this one. He didn't skip class or get caught smoking. He nearly killed his wife.

  • Trevvor Sandy, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 1:56 p.m.

    Moderate: good comment. I agree with you. Home for the holidays is right though. When the byu players got in a fight last year and kicked off the team, almost every ute fan on these boards let us know they represent us, our university, and our faith. Next time a byu player messes up they will do the same, so I can't say I feel bad if anyone reminds them their players represent the state of Utah, their school, and also the LDS church too, if LDS or their respective religions as well.

  • Chris from Rose Park Hartford, CT
    Feb. 23, 2013 1:51 p.m.

    Thank you Moderate. This is one of the saddest human stories I have read in a long time. If this degenerates into rivalry talk, that's just pathetic. God bless this family.

  • Moderate Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 1:43 p.m.

    Just because the headline mentions "U Football", please don't descend into the usual immature drivel of rivalry smack talk. This story isn't about football. Its about domestic violence. Learn some boundaries.

  • Ted H. Midvale, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 1:42 p.m.

    Rrasonable ute, I agree it would be bigger news if a byu player had done it, but I am not quite sure how that impacts anything? It doesn't make it more wrong if it would get more publicity, that's not what you are saying right? Please don't tell me you are saying it is less wrong since its less publicized since its a Utah player?

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Feb. 23, 2013 1:37 p.m.

    The wife probably married him because of his looks,attractiveness, and strength.

    There's a lesson to be learned here.

  • Cougar Claws Lindon, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 1:14 p.m.

    Needless to say this guy has issues and this is a really sad thing for his family. I am not going to sit here and pretend that this guy must represent the whole University of Utah because clearly he doesn't. There are a lot of great people who have been on that team in the past. So that being said, let's take it for what it is. His wife and kids must be heartbroken. Then again, it is probably a good thing he is in custody for their safety.

  • reasonableUTE Provo, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 1:12 p.m.

    @Utes home for the holidays

    the reason that some Utah fans do this is because many BYU fans consider BYU to be "God's University." BYU brings this on itself to some extent. I do agree however that it is hypocritical. The reality is, no university is filled with perfect people. No football team is without it's bad eggs. Coaches can only do so much to recruit kids that they believe have good character. If this guy played for BYU, it would be front page ESPN news.

  • Utes home for the holidays Sandy, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 1:02 p.m.

    When byu kids mess up its forever brought up by ute fans as being representing byu and the Mormon church. But let me guess, this kid doesn't really represent our state, the university, or whatever religious group he is affiliated to? Nope, no hypocrisy there.

  • iron&clay RIVERTON, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 12:24 p.m.

    Too much testosterone?

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    Feb. 23, 2013 12:17 p.m.

    I've always been told that the reason we have high school and university sports is that it builds character. Leota is an example of the character building experiences provided by participation in sports.