Friday, May 11, 2007

INNOCENT: Pressler Reveals More

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

We’re learning more from Coach Mike Pressler and others about what happened last March and April at Duke.

In a Newsday story about Don Yeager’s “It’s Not About Truth,” reporter Graham Rayman recounts [excerpts]:

"The thing that might be most disheartening to me is that ... the only people that have stood up and apologized ... were the players," Pressler says in the book. "The adults in this picture -- the faculty, the administration -- they haven't apologized for anything." …

Duke president Richard Brodhead and athletic director Joe Alleva both were criticized. The book also reveals that Pressler and the team kept a secret list of people they felt had wronged them, dubbed, "The Grail."

Tom Butters, a former longtime Duke athletic director, also takes university officials to task in the book. "I know I am probably stepping on toes when I say this, but it was absurd," Butters says. "I wanted someone to step up for Mike and those kids."

Duke spokesman David Jarmul declined to comment on the book because it has yet to be issued. "From his first statement in March 2006, at a time when many seemed to accept the truth of the district attorney's charges, President Brodhead repeatedly emphasized the need for the students to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise within the legal system," Jarmul said.

At the outset, back in March 2006, the book says, Pressler and other Duke officials were so convinced that the allegations would go away that they gave bad advice to the players.

For example, co-captain Dan Flannery says that the assistant dean of students, Sue Wasiolek, told him, "Right now, you don't need an attorney. Just don't tell anyone, including your teammates or parents, and cooperate with police if they contact you."

The following day, eight police officers showed up at the North Buchanan house, frisked the players, searched the house, and took them to the station for interviews and DNA tests.

Flannery now blames Wasiolek's advice for what followed. "We believed, albeit falsely, that these people would look after our best interests," he says in the book. When Durham police called Pressler on March 20 and asked for an informal meeting with players, the coach agreed.

Pressler admits in the book that he told the team not to tell anyone about the meeting. "I was told to keep it quiet," Pressler said. "Everybody. . . thought it was going to go away. There was no reason to bring more attention to it. So I interpreted that being, 'Hey, guys, it's going to go away, let's keep it in-house here. Don't tell your parents yet, don't tell your girlfriends. Keep it in house.'"

But some parents already knew and demanded a postponement.

At times, the book says, Duke officials expressed support for the players in private, but not in public. On March 24, Pressler met with Athletic Director Joe Alleva, along with other Duke officials and the team captains. Alleva told them only that they would be punished for throwing the party.

The next day, Duke president Richard Brodhead decided the team would forfeit two games.

In an emotional five-hour meeting with the team's parents that followed, Duke officials said they believed the players' accounts. But on March 26, Brodhead ordered the suspension of all future games. …
A few thoughts --

The Newsday story confirms earlier reports Sue Wasiolek, dean of students, told students not to contact their parents.

Former AD Tom Butters speaking out publicly is a new and important development. Team Brodhead has tried to perpetuate the “we’re all on the same page” myth when in fact there have been many sharp differences within Duke’s leadership.

Friends who usually get things right say Brodhead is coming under increasing fire for what most Duke insiders realize was the bungling of the crisis last March and April and a none too effective PR campaign since to convince people “Problems? Not here.”

I’ll post more on Pressler’s book later today. Also, more about divisions within Duke’s leadership.


Anonymous said...

I know many many many duke alums. I don't know one, not one, who supports the President. I do agree that some demands on him were wrong, at least wrong headed. If Bhead had been a defense advocate it would likely have backfired. But, denouncing death threats and unconstitutional conduct? Why not. Why wring your hands over emails to faculty memembers while not demanding physical safety for students. Why denounce so called "hate speech" from students but not filthy attacks on players and players mothers.

At best, he was in over his head.

Wave goodbye Bhead, we all hate you.

Anonymous said...

"At times, the book says, Duke officials expressed support for the players in private, but not in public"...

"In an emotional five-hour meeting with the team's parents that followed, Duke officials said they believed the players' accounts. But on March 26, Brodhead ordered the suspension of all future games."

They believed the players?

They believed Nifong?

No way they could have believed both.

What other factors might have influenced the decisions made by Duke?

I'll give you 88 guesses....


Anonymous said...

I think Darby's got it right about the influence of the 88. It's not just a Brodhead problem. It's a faculty hiring problem, too, and that should be examined by the trustees as well. Getting rid of Brodhead will not get rid of the rot that influenced him and other administrators. Perhaps a less timorous president would have kept the 88 in the shadows, but maybe in the long run, it's good that they exposed themselves.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I doubt Winston Churchill would have handled this case like Mr. Brodhead had he been the President of Duke.

"All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope. " W. Chuchill...

I am not sure the G88 or the leadership at Duke would comprehend the above quote... they are so sorely lackiong any of these qualities/traits...

"True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information." W. Churchill.

Seems the Duke leadership decisions will not fall into the category of true genius. True coward perhaps, but not even close to genius...