A few miles down the road, it appears, we have the college press version of the Herald-Sun. In an editorial out today, the Daily Tar Heel fumes, "The three Duke Lacrosse players who were falsely accused of raping a stripper at a party reached a financial settlement last month with Duke University, which begs a pressing question: What did they have to settle?"
The editorial then answers its own question: "We can only imagine it is for a suspension from Duke when the young men were charged, and to that we must ask what was done wrong . . . Duke owes David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann nothing."
Good reporting--like what we've seen from the Chronicle in this case--might have looked into the matter some, rather than basing an editorial on what "we can only imagine." Had the DTH editors done their job, they might have discovered that Duke's unwillingness to enforce its own Faculty Handbook made a settlement inevitable. Or fear by the administration that a suit would expose embarrassing e-mails from senior administrators or professors. Or a consideration of the legal vulnerability caused by Duke employees, early on, urging the players not to tell their parents or hire attorneys. [Or, as a commenter pointed out, the behavior of Duke Hospital, which put SANE nurse-in-training Tara Levicy in a position to botch Crystal Mangum's diagnosis and initiate the whole fiasco.]
But the DTH, apparently, prefers to do journalism by imagination. Bob Ashley should be mining the editorial staff for the next generation of Herald-Sun editorial writers.
Duke Basketball Report also takes the DTH to task, noting,
We’ve also argued consistently that normal collegiate behavior (in other words, standards) should be extended to athletes. So when someone drinks underage, as virtually all students do, athletes should not treated differently, and the same should, in our opinion, extend to drug use. If half the campus smokes pot at a party, and isn’t arrested, then the standard should be the same for athletes . . .
As a second point, if you limit your argument to the questions around the party, perhaps there is no further issue for lawyers to discuss. But when you get into the behavior of some members of the faculty, and the prospect of them being put on the stand and being questioned about things like punitive grading, and exactly how the statement by the group of 88 was developed, and players being humiliated in class, then, yes, if those things did happen (and we don’t have any particular insights on that but they have certainly been rumored), then that answers the opening question in the DTH’s editorial: what did they have to settle? The confidentiality clause of the agreement and the shielding of the faculty doesn’t automatically mean there is some there there, but it does make it harder to rule out, and does point out the laziness of this editorial.