Sunday, October 22, 2006

Considering Alleva

A Saturday Baltimore Sun had a two-part article on the 2006-7 Duke lacrosse team represented one of the few times in this entire affair that everyone seemed to come across well. Duke’s John Burness offered generous statements about university policy regarding the readmission of Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty if charges are dismissed or a trial ends with a not-guilty verdict. Coach John Danowski stated he would welcome the duo back to the team. And several players were quoted in a warm fashion.

In short everyone—Duke, the lacrosse team, the accused players—came across well in the article, which was picked up by the wire services.

Then came this morning’s Herald-Sun and an interview with AD Joe Alleva. Alleva’s role in this affair is an odd one: initially, he was one of the five Duke employees to offer anything close to positive comments about the players. Then, after a high-profile personal incident that led some to demand his ouster, he gave an interview praising Duke for handling the lacrosse situation “really, really well.”

Asked about Danowski’s comments by the Herald-Sun, Alleva responded:

If they get reinstated back into school—that would be the first process—then we will reconsider their status with the lacrosse team. It all comes back to them being reinstated into school first, and then we would consider it.

The key word there is “consider.”

It seemed to me that Alleva’s words represented a backtracking from the Baltimore Sun article; but I can see where people would disagree with that interpretation. But they surely differed radically in tone from the quotes in the Baltimore Sun. Where Burness and Danowski were generous and inviting, Alleva was cold and vaguely ominous.

The TalkLeft and Liestoppers messageboards noticed Alleva’s tone as well.

So I emailed John Burness to ask if Alleva’s remarks should be interpreted as a shift in university policy; he generously took time from his Sunday to respond. Burness told me:

  • His statement to the Baltimore Sun describes university policy and how the university would approach any re-admission of Seligmann and Finnerty.
  • As coach of the lacrosse team, Danowski, not Alleva, decides whether Seligmann or Finnerty would rejoin the team.

It would seem to me, then, that it would be best for all concerned to pretend as if the Herald-Sun article never appeared. Given that in the same article Alleva also described the winless Duke football team as a “program going in the right direction,” he’s not exactly oozing credibility at this point anyway.

The lessons from this mini-affair:

  • The Herald-Sun will find a way to spin in a negative fashion even the most positive story about the players.
  • Alleva’s unfortunate remarks took some of the luster off what should have been an unequivocally positive story for Duke.

Perhaps Alleva might want to consider—and the key word there is “consider”—these lessons the next time he speaks to the Herald-Sun.


Anonymous said...

Alleva simply states Duke's official policy in an article and Johnson decides to criticize him because he does not explicitly embrace the suspended players. (Johnson also throws in a little conspiracy theory for good measure.) In addition, Johnson conveniently neglects to mention Orin Stern's comment. Tell me once again that there is no bias on this blog.

LearnedHand said...

as reagan said..."there you go again."

alleva did NOT "simply state" anything. he underscored the word "consider" for a reason. furthermore, kc stated that this was an interpretation and that he could understand why others would disagree. yes...HUGE bias. just terrible.

if you want to see bias, i am sure you, anon, will always find it. as for me, i see a very interesting read with which to make up my OWN mind.

good read, kc...thanks.

kbp said...

Why would anyone trust a reporter from the HS to print their comments?

Anonymous said...

To the 10:55 poster - Why would KC mention Orin Starn's remarks? Starn's remarks are completely hypocritical and in complete contrast to the numerous negative remarks he has make about the lax players, Duke athletics, and Coach K. He has stated that he thinks Duke should withdraw from Division I athletics in favor of club sports. His present comment that he doesn't wish bad things for the lax players or other Duke athletics is beyond incredible. Does he actually believe we don't remember all his statements to the contrary over the past seven months?

Anonymous said...

To 10:55 PM. Please start your own un-biased blog and leave this one alone. It's getting real bothersome to read your silly comments on every post.

Anonymous said...

Even if Seligmann and Finnerty have the support of their teammates and coach to return to the team, I could certainly understand if they decided that once they are cleared, they would never return to Durham County. If I were in their shoes, I might even prefer to avoid driving through the county, at least as long as Nifong is the DA.

Anonymous said...

Learned Hand, has KC ever said anything on this blog that you disagreed with in any way? Are you a lacrosse team parent?

LearnedHand said...

Anonymous said...
Learned Hand, has KC ever said anything on this blog that you disagreed with in any way? Are you a lacrosse team parent?

10:20 AM
(1) Yes (although most of the time it is simply his interpretation of facts - which I choose to read, but then form my own opinion); and
(2) No...heck not even old enough, but thanks for the compliment.

now - YOUR turn to answer MY two questions:

(1) if you had a child at duke, how would you feel about the durham police department and its stated policy of targeting duke students?

(2) do you feel that broadhead has done his job as president in regard to the dpd's statement and recent treatment of duke students (including the warrantless searches of dorms, characterizations of the entire lacrosse team, etc.)?

Anonymous said...

10:20 What difference does it make if he/she is a lacrosse team parent? For some reason, you seem to think only lax parents post on this board. Frankly, like many that post on this board, I know absolutely nothing about the game of lacrosse - I've never even seen a game. My interest in the case lies in examining the conduct of the DA's office and DPD, the actions of the Duke adminstration, the indictments of three very obviously innocent young men, and the handling of the allegations by the MSM. It has been a rude awakening for someone such as myself to learn how flawed the NC judicial system is and just how much unlimited power is afforded the DA's of each county. Having never known anyone involved with the judicial system, this case is extremely alarming to me. These men have families with the resources to hire the best defense attorneys to fight these allegations. However, were it my children, frankly they would probably be sitting in jail for a year because we wouldn't be able to post bail. I am extremely thankful they have the ability to aggressively fight the charges. Again, however, it definitely makes me wonder how many innocent people are railroaded into prison by corrupt DA's or forced to plea in order to avoid a lengthy jail term.
This case has serious ramifications for all citizens in this country. It is a case that I imagine that will be studied in law schools for decades to come.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to comment on Joe Alleva.
I am told that he is despised by the members of the lacrosse team. They all felt that he was very quick to deflect all blame for any problems from his shoulders onto Coach Pressler, and that he was partially to blame for the coach being fired. Alleva felt that if Pressler took the hit, that would get him off the hook for the most part (which it did). In addition he did nothing in any way shape or form to give support to the players. With regard to the recent alcohol boating accident, where his son was charged with DUI, those that I talked to were suspicious that Alleva was driving the boat, and his son took the hit to save his job. Anybody see a pattern here?

With regard to Reade Seligman, it's pretty clear he is not returning to Duke based on his comments to 60 Minutes, and from what I have heard he is going to play football, not lacrosse when he returns to school. That's Duke's loss.

Anonymous said...

To Learned Hand: I am not aware of a DPD policy of targeting Duke students. I am aware that Gottlieb has arrested a disproportionate number of Duke students, but I do not think that means DPD has an official policy of targeting Duke students. Also, much of the contact that DPD has with Duke students, and in particular with the LAX players, is based upon specific complaints from their neighbors in Trinity Park about loud parties at odd hours, beer cans thrown all over the neighborhood, public urination, etc. If the LAX players were to clean up their act, presumably they would have less contact with DPD.

As for your second question, I think the LAX players through their irresponsible actions put Brodhead in an impossible situation where he was going to receive substantial criticism from one group or another no matter what he did. On balance, I think he has done a great job under very difficult circumstances. Although you pound on him incessantly for not speaking out on behalf of the players, you seem not to have noticed that Robert Steele and the other trustees of the university also are not speaking out on behalf of the players, which indicates that they agree with the approach Brodhead has taken on this issue.

To 10:49 AM, the question to Learned Hand about being an LAX team parent was intended as a bit of humor, a counterpoint to his repeatedly asking whether those who post comments that depart from the party line laid out by KC are Brodhead, Nifong, Victoria Petersen, relatives of the foregoing, etc. You should try to lighten up and smell the flowers.

Anonymous said...

I think just about everyone agrees that the conduct of the DPD and the DA has been deplorable. But it bothers me that so many think this is a NC problem. I am not a NC resident, but I unfortunately believe that that this could have happened anywhere. Remember the similar story of the man in NYC falsely convicted of rape (based upon the AV's testimony), and the charges of prosecutorial misconduct and false arrest brought against the police and the NY DA as a result?

I am glad that KC recognizes positive comments from the duke administration. But I would not be so quick to condemn Alleva's comments. I have held a public position--one in which I was often interviewed by the local paper. I know that no matter how careful you are, and no matter how well-prepared with specific soundbites you are, the paper can and will still find a way to distort or misquote you. I'd guess that maybe, since Alleva actually has no say in whether a reinstated student rejoins a team, he was just trying to be careful to not sound like he had the answer. Of course, he could have said "It is totally up to the coach.." But then again, maybe he did.

Anonymous said...

Before everyone jumps on 2:03 for his comments about the lax players' behavior in the trinity park neighborhood, I hope they consider that there is much truth to what he is saying. I have a son who lived in Trinity Park last year--very close to the lax house. Just about every house of Duke students in Trinity Park behaved regularly in a way that none of us would find acceptable if they were our neighbors, my own son's house included. But I can attest to the fact that the lax house was one of the worst offenders, as I witnessed on more than one Thursday night. I do not blame the Trinity Park neighbors for demanding more action from the police, and I do not blame the police for trying to be more diligent about patrolling the neighborhood. But I do think it was very wrong for the police to cuff and jail Duke students for minor infractions, and they should be held accountable for that.

LearnedHand said...

to my friend anon: if you are "not aware" of this dpd policy, you should DEFINITELY read some of the other posts and articles on this subject. yes, gottlieb arrested a disproportionate number of students - but, as we subsequently found out in the media, the dpd officer in charge of gottlieb admitted that he was following orders to do so based on the perceived need to do so against duke students due to their past behavior. ridiculous. read up.

maybe kc can add some insight here, also?

as for the trinity park neighborhood complaints - nothing new there. no, i would not want to live next to a bunch of off-campus party houses, however, why does everyone act as if this is news? this situation was EXACTLY the same back in the late eighties. the fact that the rowdiness of these houses is notorious and historical is certainly no excuse. irresponsible, immature behavior is JUST that. but drinking irresponsibly, loud noise complaints, too many cars parked in the neighborhood, etc., etc.? these are standard complaints. my goodness, who would think that 19-20 year old college kids would EVER drink, make loud noise and make other minor irresponsible choices. are you going to tell me that THIS behavior warrants a crack-down, including handcuffing and jail-time, by dpd on duke students as a group (but NOT on other groups)?

Anonymous said...

5:09--Actually it has gotten MUCH worse since the 80s (or 90s). to describe it as excess noise and a lot of cars is a gross under-exaggeration. Much is the result of the university crackdown on on-campus drinking a few years ago--forcing the parties off campus. So we could blame it on Duke, but that type of crackdown is evident on almost every college campus these days.

No--it most certainly doesn't warrant the cuffing and jailing, but IMO it probably did warrant a crackdown. And the reason they are cracking down on Duke students is that they ARE the ones causing the problems in that neighborhood.

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