Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Chronicle & Goestenkors' Leaving

Duke’s women’s basketball coach Gail Goestenkors’ leaving is a great loss for the University and for Durham. She did more than build a championship program. With intelligence, drive, good -humor and genuine care for others, she’s modeled what Duke is supposed to be about.

Many at Duke and in Durham are going to miss a great coach; even more we’ll miss a great person, neighbor and friend.

The Chronicle editorial board told readers why it thinks Coach G is leaving: the Chronicle says the administration is to blame and provides examples of what it’s talking about.

But the Chronicle overlooked some very important matters which may well have contributed to Coach G’s leaving.

They’re the kind of matters which, while not important to some people, are always very important to quality people like Gail Goestenkors.

I’ll explain by first presenting “main points” from the Chronicle’s editorial. Then I’ll identify matters I think are very important to Coach G which the Chronicle decided not to mention if it thought of them at all. Then, it’s up to you.

From the Chronicle editorial:

Coach G was a jewel in the athletic department. …

The loss of such a successful coach is an embarrassment to Duke, in particular because the athletic department completely mismanaged its efforts to retain Goestenkors.

Top administrators did a poor job of demonstrating to Goestenkors how much they valued her contributions to the University.

Neither President Richard Brodhead nor Director of Athletics Joe Alleva showed up at a March 29 rally outside Coach G's office, even though Brodhead was a conspicuous participant in a similar 2004 rally to persuade men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski to stay at Duke.

The symbolism was clear: women's basketball will never be as important as men's basketball, and the top brass couldn't be bothered to stop by a rally to support one of the best coaches in the game. …

To be sure, the Longhorns have a stronger women's basketball infrastructure than Duke does. Texas has its own women's athletics director-Chris Plonsky, a longtime acquaintance of Goestenkors'-and the women's team practices in a 44,000-sq. ft. facility, which includes a court exclusively for its use. At Duke, the women's team is forced to share court space in Cameron Indoor Stadium with the volleyball and men's basketball teams.

Brodhead and Alleva were correct to point out that non-financial considerations influenced Coach G's decision to migrate to the Lone Star State.

But that is precisely the problem. When her salary options were equal, Goestenkors chose to leave-what was once, at least-one of the most prestigious athletic departments in the country on the heels of the greatest regular season in the history of ACC women's basketball.

The athletics department must learn from its mistakes in the Goestenkors bidding war if it hopes to stay competitive in the contest for great women athletes and coaches.
The Chronicle editors excoriate the administration for other “mistakes” I didn’t “snip.” The entire editorial is here.

The Chronicle never considers whether the University’s conduct concerning the Hoax and the frame-up of three students might have contributed to Goestenkors leaving Duke.

Does the Chronicle think Goastenkors wasn’t very concerned by the University’s failure to speak up on May 18, 2006, or since in response to threats, including death threats, directed at a Duke student in Durham in broad daylight not a mile from campus.

I’m speaking about the threats shouted repeatedly at Reade Seligmann, his family and his attorney, the late Kirk Osborn, both outside and within Durham County Superior Court Judge Ron Stephens’ courtroom.

Neither Duke’s President, Richard H. Brodhead, nor any member of the board of trustees, nor any senior Duke A&S faculty member has spoken out publicly to condemn those making the threats; or to express a willingness to stand with Seligmann and his family in the face of those threats.

Last Spring one group at Duke realized the Hoax had led to the frame-up of innocent students. The group said exactly what needed to be said: “Innocent!”

And how were the coaches and members of the Women’s lacrosse team treated for saying, “Innocent?”

They were trashed.

The Atlanta Journal quoted a “national expert” who said:
“These are stupid, spoiled little girls. It smacks of high school. Maybe one day when they’ll read about one of their friends who was raped. Then they’ll rethink this.”
A Boston Globe columnist wondered whether with all the stress they’d been exposed to, the women were in any shape to make serious judgments.

Professor Karla Holloway reflected a wide swath of Duke’s faculty culture when she said:
I wanted to write to them to ask if they might, instead, consider writing the word "justice" onto their gear, a word whose connotations run deeper than the team-inspired and morally slender protestations of loyalty….”
Recently a Duke alum asked in a “don’t miss” post you can read at Liestoppers:
Did Duke professors choose to support these female students dismissed as “little girls” in the press? Was calling collegiate women “little girls” a social disaster? Apparently not.

Has anyone come forward now that the women’s lacrosse team was obviously correct to acknowledge their heroic courage and apologize for the response they received?
No one senior in the Allen Building or on the A&S faculty spoke out in support of the Women’s lacrosse team when it was trashed last Spring.

There are other instances of Duke actions and inactions since the false witness was first made that have concerned and upset people who love Duke and left them wondering where it’s headed.

I don’t know whether, as the Chronicle suggests, Brodhead and Alleva’s failure to show up at a March 29 rally outside Coach G's office influenced her decision to leave.

But I feel very confident that given a choice, Gail Goestenkors would’ve much preferred Brodhead and Alleva show up at a rally condemning those who threatened Seligmann than at a rally pleading for her to stay at Duke. That’s just the kind of person she is.

And she didn’t need Brodhead and Alleva spending time with her telling her about their commitment to students, especially student-athletes. She knows about that from watching them this past year.

Message to Gail Goestenkors: Thank you for all you did here. All the best at Texas.

Message to the Chronicle editorial board: I want to ask you again why you’ve never explained to readers your refusal to editorialize on any of the following:

1) the threats directed at Seligmann, his parents, and attorney;

2) the University’s silence in response to those threats;

3) the Chronicle’s decision to say nothing supportive or to defend the Women’s Lax team last Spring when so many in media trashed them;

and 4) the University’s silence in response to the trashing of the women students.

Please respond, editorial board members. It's almost graduation time


Anonymous said...

I agree. Why would any coach stay at Duke, when their season could be abruptly cancelled? A coach who cares about their team as much as Coach G did must have been horrified about the treatment of Pressler. Look at his fabulous record at Duke prior to these false charges. "Partying" is no reason to suspend a team's season and fire the coach. If I were a coach at Duke, I would also be extremely upset that the administration didn't communicate frequently with the Lacrosse parents during this debacle.

kbp said...

Thanks John

Certainly food for thought there. It's nice to be someplace you're familiar with, but that might be the problem.

Anonymous said...

Even the ancient Greeks were aware of the correlation between a health body and a healthy mind. Yet, many of Duke 88 have expressed attitudes that are anti-athletics. They obviously are not aware of the exhilaration of competition or the satisfaction of pushing the body beyond all perceived limits. They must not see the benefit of sublimating the most primal of instincts and urges to endeavors that are both physically and socially beneficial. Can they spell "endorphin"?

I wonder who they are. I suddenly have a vision of flaccid, pot-bellied endomorphs. College remembrances of lazy, pot-smoking, weak-willed liberal arts majors come to mind. But then, I could be wrong.

Mike in Nevada

Anonymous said...

Maybe a little harsh John. I just watched G's presser at Texas and she seems enthralled at being coaxed by ex-tarhole Mack Brown and ex-clemson loser Rick Barnes.
Is that a wedding band on G's left hand or ? Guess Mark Simon knows for sure. Fire Alleva and Brodhead!

staightarrow said...

I know all you Dukies will be angry with me for this, but I hope Duke University bleeds a long time from this. It is too late for her to recover her honor. She can only serve now as an example of consequences for failure to live by principle and law.

Anonymous said...

The rats who jump ship first, are the ones who can swim. Grab any opportunity to get out of Durham.

Anonymous said...

I am a Dukie and I do hope that Duke bleeds for a very long time and is brought down to her knees. That is the only way that she will really recognize the seriousness of her actions and lack of action.The administration, Board of Trustees, and members of the faculty must admit their culbability in the "hoax" and there must be a thorough cleaning of house and a major apology which includes the payment of the lacrosse team's law fees. This is the only way that Duke can begin to heal and restore its reputation as the still rising star of elite universities. Duke had a unique niche-a top acacdemic institution with a well rounded campus life which included a top athletic program. Brodhead has ruined Duke's unique position in one year....he has to go.

locomotive breath said...

This is a case of the ship leaving the sinking rats.