Duke's Lacrosse Team Marks Case Dismissal With Big Win
Posted April 14, 2007 5:48 p.m. EDT
Updated April 15, 2007 12:21 p.m. EDT
Durham, N.C. — It’s a special weekend for the Duke lacrosse team, who beat the defending national champions days after three former players were exonerated of sexual assault charges.
It’s also Duke alumni weekend, which meant fans poured in to watch the match, with the Duke team winning in overtime 7-6 against Virginia.
Students and administrators said they're not only celebrating one victory but two, as the team is no longer on the defensive.
“I hope it's a burden off of their shoulders and the cloud has been lifted and we can all move on,” said Duke athletic director Joe Alleva.
The desire to move into the future is something that most people on campus seemed to be ready to do.
“People have been waiting for this,” said student Adam Rothschild. “I think most people thought they were innocent, so it’s just kind of feeling good.”
The Duke lacrosse team has been in the national spotlight for more than a year, ever since former players Collin Finnerty, Reade Seligman, and David Evans were initially accused of raping exotic dancer Crystal Mangum at an off-campus party.
Rape charges were dismissed in December, and on Wednesday, state Attorney General Roy Cooper dropped remaining charges against the three men, saying they were innocent of the accusations.
Although students said they're happy the case is over, many are still wearing blue wristbands with the jersey numbers of Finnerty, Seligman and Evans. They said the former students and the team still need their support.
“Even though it's done, those kids will really never be the same, I think,” said student Natalie Linsalata.
“The program was kind of in question after what happened last year,” said student Ben Franks.
Last season was cut short, and the players were cut out any chances at a national championship.
“Hopefully they'll have a great season to compensate a little bit,” Linsalata said.
The stadium was packed with fans Saturday afternoon. However, there was no sign of Finnerty, Evans or Seligmann.