Local News

Duke President Suspends Lacrosse Athlete, Takes More Actions

Posted April 6, 2006 7:12 a.m. EDT

— Duke University's president Wednesday night announced a number of actions he is taking to defend important values at stake in the wake of a rape investigation involving members of the university's men's lacrosse team.

Those actions include suspending a lacrosse athlete; accepting the resignation of the team's head coach; and canceling the rest of the season. They come on the same day that authorities released a previously sealed search warrant that contains an e-mail message that President Richard Brodhead described as "sickening and repulsive."

Brodhead announced Wednesday night that lacrosse athlete Ryan McFadyen is suspended pending the outcome of the rape investigation, and that he is no longer on the Duke campus.

Durham investigators believe McFadyen is the author of a vulgar e-mail that was sent out in the early-morning hours of March 14 that suggests hiring strippers and killing them.

McFadyen, however, has not been charged with any crime.

Although Brodhead said he could not speak specifically to the criminal claims that an exotic dancer was raped at an off-campus lacrosse party, he said enough bad behavior, such as underage drinking, was known to take action.

"In listening to community leaders, faculty members students and alumni, it is clear that this episode has touched off angers, fears, resentments and suspicions that range far beyond this immediate cause," Brodhead said in a university news release. "It has done so because the episode has brought to glaring visibility underlying issues that have been of concern on this campus and in this town for some time."

Brodhead announced five specific action items:

  • An investigation into claims of a history of drunken, rowdy and racist behavior on the part of lacrosse athletes.

  • An investigation that will examine the university's response to the rape allegations that will be conducted by individuals outside of the university community.

  • An examination of the student judicial process and disciplinary procedures.

  • A self-examination "to evaluate and suggest improvements in the ways Duke educates students in the values of personal responsibility."

  • The creation of a presidential council, made up of the Durham community, national higher education circles and Duke, that will scrutinize the university's responses to the lacrosse team incident and advise the president on whether the responses are appropriate and effective.

    On Thursday, Durham Police will brief the City Manager about the investigation, and he will, in turn, report those findings to the City Council.

    As for the future of the lacrosse team, Brodhead said he was not going to prejudge.

    "There's so many questions up in the air," he said. "We've asked groups to get together to take serious looks at this matter. I don't want to prejudge what they will find or what they will advise, but it seems to me that all questions are open at this point."

    Although he suggests the allegations against the lacrosse team have left Duke with a reputation of arrogant inconsiderateness, he said the majority of Duke students are well-behaved and good-hearted.