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New Duke Lacrosse Coach Wants To Repair Team's Reputation

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DURHAM, N.C. — Kevin Cassese went to work Tuesday as the interim men's lacrosse coach at Duke University, saying he would try to restore the "bruised reputation" of his alma mater.

Cassese, who had been an assistant coach, was introduced Tuesday as the team's interim coach until a permanent replacement is found.

A day after university President Richard Brodhead cleared the way for the team to return to play next season, several team members players crowded into the back of the press room at Cameron Indoor Stadium, joined in a show of support by men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, football coach Ted Roof and women's lacrosse coach Kerstin Kimel.

Cassese said his age and the fact that he was a former player would not deter him from moving the program to a new direction.

"There have been behavioral issues involving team members in the past and these issues cannot continue," he said.

The 25-year-old graduated from Duke in 2003 and was assigned as an assistant coach last July. While at Duke, the Port Jefferson Station, N.Y., native led the Blue Devils to three NCAA Tournament berths and a pair of Atlantic Coast Conference championships. He was named team captain two times and was a three-time All-ACC selection.

"All we needed was that shot to get back out there and now we've been afforded that shot and we're looking forward to it very much," Cassese said. "We here at Duke lacrosse are a proud bunch and we are a resilient bunch and we will come out of this stronger and more united than ever."

Brodhead canceled the season in April amid rape allegations involving members of the lacrosse team at an off-campus party. Long-time coach Mike Pressler resigned and three players -- Collin Finnerty, 19, Reade Seligmann, 20, and David Evans, 23,-- were indicted in connection with the alleged crime.

Cassese said that he supports the three indicted players, including Evans, a former teammate.

"I find it impossible to believe that he could have the things that he is accused of," Cassese said. "While I never had the opportunity to play alongside Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty, I will, as with David Evans, support them until there is evidence and a court decision that leads me to conclude otherwise."

All three suspects are expected to appear again in court on June 22.

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