Local News

Krzyzewski Sends Strong Message With Decision To Stay

Posted July 5, 2004 8:12 a.m. EDT

— Unlike many of his players recently, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski turned down the lure of pro basketball to stay in college.

The decision not only reaffirmed Coach K's commitment to Duke; it also sent a message that he has not finished fighting for the college game.

"It's as strong a message as college athletics could have made," said Hall-of-Fame sportswriter Bill Brill.

Despite Krzyzewski's 624 victories and three national championships at Duke, Brill believes the coach still has more to accomplish in college basketball.

"Anybody who knows Mike Krzyzewski knows that, first and foremost, he considers himself an educator and a teacher," Brill said.

Krzyzewski confirmed that statement when he said during a Monday press conference that "I passionately want to coach and teach."

Brill has written several books on Duke basketball. He said Coach K's desire to push the NCAA and the NBA to alter recruiting and keep more players in school also played a role in the decision.

"I think he's indicating he hasn't flown the white flag," Brill said, "that he's here, and he'll try and make whatever changes are possible."

Brill recently finished a book about 100 years of Duke basketball. A Coach K exit would have required a rewrite.

"It would have ruined the rest of my summer," he said.

The campus community shared Brill's sentiments.

"It's huge that Coach K is staying," said Pasha Majdi, Duke's student body president. "In many ways, he is the face of Duke University. Basketball is a real integral part of the social scene. Everybody loves it here."

Said assistant women's basketball coach Gale Valley: "If you talk to people in admissions, they go out to high schools and talk to people about athletics, and what that means is Duke basketball."

Former Duke professor Dan Menzel said he saw someone special when he was on the athletic board that recruited Krzyzewski 25 years ago.

"I think those of us who had the chance to meet him then recognized that he was different," Menzel said. "He was the kind of guy who had very good leadership abilities."

For his part, Krzyzewski said Monday that he leads from the heart. He said he could not leave Duke because "Duke always has taken up my whole heart."

Menzel said Duke's academic success feeds off of Krzyzewski's teams' success.

"Athletic programs enhance the university in many ways," he said. "It's dfferent, and it is hard to measure that academically.

"Let's face it, Durham is not the center of the universe. It's not a place where you take vacations and things like that."

As far as Duke fans were concerned, after Krzyzewski's announcement Monday, Durham remained the center of the college-basketball universe.

"He always says follow your heart," student Erin McMahon said. "He followed his heart and made the right decision."