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Duke AD: Lacrosse Coach Warned Last Year About Players' Behavior

Posted April 18, 2006
Updated January 7, 2007

— Duke University's lacrosse coach was warned last year that his players had too many violations of the campus judicial code and he needed to "get them in line," school officials said Monday.

Duke athletic director Joe Alleva said that Tallman Trask III, Duke's executive vice president, reviewed the lacrosse team's disciplinary record, then discussed his findings with Alleva.

"He said there were too many incidents, but there's not enough incidents to make a drastic change in the program at this point in time," Alleva said in an interview with a Durham newspaper.

Alleva then met with lacrosse coach Mike Pressler, telling Pressler that "his team was under the microscope, and he had to do everything he could to get them in line and to not have any more behavior problems," Alleva said.

Alleva's comments came the same day that a defense attorney said a grand jury issued sealed indictments against two lacrosse team members in connection with allegations that a stripper was raped last month at a team party.

The attorney, Robert Ekstrand, who represents dozens of players, did not say which players were indicted or what charges they faced.

Pressler, who resigned April 5, declined comment on Alleva's report of the review. Duke President Richard Brodhead accepted Pressler's resignation and canceled the highly ranked team's season after the release of a vulgar and graphic e-mail that a team member sent shortly after the alleged assault.

Trask's review was spurred by reports of "boorish behavior" by the lacrosse team, Alleva said. Trask could not be reached for comment, the newspaper said.

Sue Wasiolek, Duke's dean of students and assistant vice president for student affairs, said the review of team members' violations -- which her office compiled -- showed the lacrosse team had a "disproportionate" number of violations of the campus judicial code. None was particularly serious, but administrators were concerned about the cumulative record and the fact that some players had several violations, she said.

About half the team had campus records for alcohol violations, disruptive behavior, disorderly conduct and similar infractions, Wasiolek said.

"There was a level of concern and frustration," she said. "We just didn't seem to be turning a corner in terms of making a difference."

Her office contacted Pressler several times prior to the formal review, and the coach "did not take our concerns lightly," Wasiolek said.

"He said he would look into these violations and he would take action where appropriate," she said.

Brodhead was aware of the meeting between Alleva and Pressler, said John F. Burness, the school's senior vice president for public affairs and government relations. Brodhead has described Pressler's resignation as "highly appropriate."

The Duke president also announced the formation of a campus committee to investigate how the school handled concerns about the lacrosse team's behavior. The committee, which Wasiolek said she has informed about last year's review, has a report due by May 1.


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