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Critics Question Duke Athletics, Director's Future

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DURHAM, N.C. — A rape investigation involving Duke University lacrosse players has also raised questions about the school's athletic program and whether disciplinary problems with the lacrosse team went unchecked.

"A lot of things have surfaced, as a consequence, that as a mature institution, we ought to take a look at," said John Burness, Duke's senior vice-president for public affairs and government relations.

As a result of the lacrosse rape investigation, Duke canceled the men's lacrosse season, and athletic director Joe Alleva accepted head coach Mike Pressler's resignation. A committee was also formed to look into the culture of the lacrosse team, as well as the entire supervision of Duke athletics.

Critics believe the behavior of athletes at the March party is a symptom of a larger problem, and some are calling for the school's athletic director, Joe Alleva, to resign. An editorial in the campus newspaper, The Chronicle, calls for Alleva to be fired. The opinion stems not only from the lacrosse situation, but also from allegations of steroid use by baseball players last year.

But Burness said Alleva has been active in the supervision of university athletics. Since the steroid allegations surfaced, for example, the baseball team has a new coach, and the school has a new drug policy.

"I believe the people who are responsible for this position know what I stand for and my reputation," Alleva said.

And Burness said Duke officials believe in Alleva's leadership.

"I think for people, the ultimate is -- did Duke do the right thing in responding to all of these issues?" Burness said.

Alleva responded to the steroid allegations to say that nothing significant surfaced in that regard, and that along with a new coach, the baseball team has a new culture.

In the midst of the Duke men's lacrosse rape investigation, in which 46 members were ordered by the court to submit DNA samples, the future of Duke lacrosse remains uncertain.

The committees examining athletics and the judicial process will report their findings to university leaders in May and June.


Kelcey Carlson, Reporter
Mark Simpson, Photographer
Dana Franks, Web Editor

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