Saturday, May 17, 2008

Duke Lax '06 Cancellation: What Safety Concerns? (Post 2)

Thursday I published Duke's Lax '06 Cancellation: What Safety Concerns?

The post linked to a recent NY Times story which included this:

Duke canceled its 2006 season after eight games in the wake of rape and sexual assault accusations against three players. The charges were later dropped. Kennedy, an associate athletic director, wrote about the campus and news media firestorms, detailing the death threats, angry protests and safety concerns that forced the university to cancel the season. (emphasis added)
I questioned whether Kennedy had made such a claim largely because I didn't recall Duke citing safety concerns when President Brodhead announced the season's cancellation on Apr. 5, 2006.

Included in Thursday's post was a detailed response by BN to The Times' report regarding Duke and player safety as a reason for the season's cancellation.

BN is a JinC Regular who's closely followed and often commented on the hoax, the frame-up attempt and its ongoing cover-up. What he's said has stood up.

Regarding Duke possibly cancelling the lax season because of, among other reasons, concern for the players' safety, BN cited a number of sources (including Duke sources)which at the time discussed reasons for the cancellation.

None of them mention the safety of the students on the lacrosse team as a reason why Duke canceled the season.

I told readers I'd do an independent check of what BN said. I should also have said in Thursday's post that I'd check with Kennedy and John Burness, Duke's vice president for public affairs and government relations, asking them if they could direct me to any published statement at the time by a Duke official citing player safety as a reason for the cancellation.

I'll email Kennedy and Burness later today and let you know what they say. As is my usual practice, I'll offer to publish here their responses in full.

Right now I can tell you this concerning my a first-read of news stories and editorials that appeared on Apr. 6 and 7 in the Raleigh N&O, the Durham H-S and Duke's student newspaper, The Chronicle, concerning the cancellation: none of them mention student safety as a reason for Duke's cancellation.

I want to do a second-read before I say I'm certain those newspapers make no mention of player safety on those dates. I also want to take a look at what WRAL reported.

That said, the following is typical of what I found during my first-read:

The N&O's Apr. 6 report, under reporters Jane Stancill's and Anne Blythe's bylines, begins:
Duke University lacrosse coach Mike Pressler resigned Wednesday, the same day a search warrant revealed new information about a lacrosse player's behavior and the rape investigation related to a lacrosse team party last month.

Hours later, university President Richard Brodhead announced the appointment of five groups to investigate campus culture, student behavior and the lacrosse program.

Brodhead also terminated all lacrosse activities immediately and canceled the rest of the season. When asked whether he had fired Pressler, Brodhead said, "Let me just say that when he offered his resignation, I quite agreed that it was an appropriate step."

No matter what happens with the police investigation, Brodhead said, the university must respond to misconduct by lacrosse players, which included underage drinking, hiring exotic dancers and, according to a neighbor and police reports, racial slurs directed at black women.

"There is a body of behavior that's already established, and it's there for us to deal with, and every day we learn more about it," Brodhead said in an interview Wednesday. "It's just time to take action on what's there before our eyes." ...
The remainder of the N&O's report's here.

Nowhere in N&O's report does it state or suggest concern by President Brodhead and Duke for the students' safety was a factor in the university's decision to cancel the season.

Here are excerpts from the N&O's Apr. 7 editorial concerning Brodhead's statements and actions of Apr. 5, including his cancellation announcement:
Wednesday, Duke University began to take more serious steps in response to what had become a worsening crisis of public confidence and a monumental embarrassment to the university. President Richard Brodhead shut down the men's lacrosse program, accepted the coach's resignation and launched the university's own search for the truth about campus culture.

His necessary action was a response to the fallout from allegations of the horrible crime of rape involving Duke lacrosse players and a now-infamous off-campus party. …

Two statements attributed to lacrosse team member Ryan McFadyen, the revealing of which has inflamed an already volatile situation, illustrate why the university's rhetoric alone failed to reassure people.

At a march against sexual violence last week, McFadyen expressed support for the cause in an interview with the campus newspaper, The Chronicle. But in a message from McFadyen's email address shortly after the March 13 incident came an astonishingly vulgar threat against "some strippers."

Brodhead and the community at large learned of the message together this week when a sealed search warrant for McFadyen's dorm room was opened.

Sickening and repulsive, Brodhead called the email, and within a few hours, Duke University was shaking to its foundations.

Not a moment too soon, the president named groups to investigate the values Duke teaches its students, its disciplinary procedures, the lacrosse team's past and his own administration's response to the rape allegations. "It's just time to take action on what's there before our eyes," he said. ...
The entire editorial is here.

Like the N&O's report of the previous day, its editorial neither states nor suggests player safety was a concern influencing Brodhead's and Duke's decision to cancel the lacrosse season.

For that matter, editorial page editor Steve Ford and his staff themselves express no concern for the players' safety. Yet they had good reason to do so.

The players had been subjected to threats from the CASTRATE and GIVE THEM EQUAL MEASURE haters, Wanted and Vigilante posters were circulating at Duke and in Durham, and just the day before a group of Duke faculty took out an ad in The Chronicle which, among other things, thanked the haters for doing what reasonable people knew were actions that were making an already dangerous situation more dangerous.

I plan to post again tomorrow on the question of whether concern for the lacrosse players' safety was a factor in Duke's cancellation of the lax season.

In the meantime, if you haven't already done so, take a look at the comment thread of Duke's Lax '06 Cancellation: What Safety Concerns?


Anonymous said...


When Brodhead cancelled the season, he had said that the moment was too serious to be playing games. What he meant, in part, was that Duke could not be seen to be playing games. From the start, Brodhead had been forced to navigate among several potentially hazardous interests—lacrosse parents who felt angry and abandoned by the school, dismayed alumni and donors, the agitated citizens of Durham, the clamoring press—while protecting what is known in the Allen Building as “the Duke brand.” On that fitful weekend in late March when the TV satellite trucks hit campus, the lacrosse team could be seen practicing for the Georgetown game, a scene that became an endless video loop suggesting institutional indifference. “We had to stop those pictures,” Bob Steel says. “It doesn’t mean that it’s fair, but we had to stop it. It doesn’t necessarily mean I think it was right—it just had to be done.”


Anonymous said...

Does anyone know the behind-the-scenes story at the N&O? How did the Khanna-Blythe story on the "victim" come about? How did the defamatory poster of the lacrosse players end up in the paper? Why hasn't the newspaper apologized for its performance?

Anonymous said...

As I recall that time frame, racial unrest grew by the minute, and the media stoked the flames at every chance.Duke faculty members were in an out-of-control frenzy.

The rumors that black workers were planning to boycott work at Duke Medical were rampant. Duke could not allow the hospital’s care to be interrupted without serious consequences,and damaging negative news reports.

Cancelling the lacrosse season was part of the plan of appeasement to the black community. Of course continuing with the Women’s Studies Department’s ‘Male Hate’ circus went forward as a,“See, we believe her ”campaign.”

As bad as the whole mess was, TV news reports of reduced care of sick patients from the Duke hospital, due to a black worker’s boycott, loomed as an even more sensational news story. All the media were in place. Can’t you just smell the blood in the water situation Duke Medical faced?

[Sarcasm]: “Better to sacrifice three white, helmet sports players, they are too privileged as it is anyway.” “We’ll call it doing the right thing, for safety, for clearing the air, for shutting this damn thing down!" “Yes, that’s the ticket." "Oh well, throw in Coach Pressler for good measure.”

If Duke was really worried about safety, they would have cancelled the ’Rape Haussler’s’ convention complete with Wanted Posters, that could have easily turned have into a full blown, ‘We Hate White Men’ riot. Duke Medical is a lot more involved in this case than one unprofessional SANE nurse, in my opinion.

I vote:
Safety concerns: No
Appeasement: Yes

Anonymous said...

"the president named groups to investigate the values Duke teaches its students, its diciplinary procedures"

One would think as president of the university, these are things he would already know. I also think "the values Duke teaches is students" is rediculous, they should be admitting students with good values, (it is never too late to learn, but I would think they would be admitting students with good values) and they did, they are obviously the young men, called the Duke lacrosse team of 2006.

"It's just time to take action on what's there before our eyes"

Too bad they didn't do that, take the time to process what was in front of them, instead of what was being made up and being fed to them as lies.
I hope the alumni keep up and step up the pressure to get the house cleaned out and re-build Duke's reputation, but somehow, I don't think that is going to happen.