The coach that Duke saw fit to fire (before an investigatory report concluded he had done nothing wrong) was recently honored by the lacrosse community. Mike Pressler has been named head coach of the U.S. National Lacrosse team for 2010. Said the chair of the selection committee, “We were certainly very impressed with Mike’s professionalism and more importantly, his excitement and enthusiasm for the position. He can’t wait to get started and has put a lot of thought into it already.”
An item from Duke News shows that the University has changed its attitude in at least one respect—and in a commendable fashion—from the lacrosse case. The University-run site highlighted the efforts of Gunther Peck, the Fred W. Shaffer Associate Professor of History and Public Policy Studies, “to make voting more convenient for the Duke community” by helping establish a polling place on campus (as already exists at NCCU). Peck acted after he was “concerned by low student turnout in May’s primary.”
Peck’s efforts deserve the strongest praise. That said, it’s hard not to notice the dramatic change in the University’s approach between 2006 and 2008. In 2006, of course, University security officers suppressed an attempt to register students outside the football stadium. And Group of 88 member Grant Farred denounced the voter registration drive as racist.
Farred, who now teaches at Cornell, didn’t respond to an e-mail asking if he considered Peck’s effort to be racist as well.
At least Duke was willing to recognize the errors of its ways in this one respect. The true believers among the faculty have shown little willingness to consider any item about the case revealed after Mike Nifong went silent, in early April 2006.
The most recent example: anti-lacrosse extremist Tim Tyson, one of two Duke faculty members who publicly confessed to participating in the March 25, 2006 candelight vigil outside the captains’ house. Tyson held his candle at about the same time that the vigil’s honoree, Crystal Mangum, was videotaped dancing—in a most limber fashion—at the Platinum Pleasures Club.
Tyson was recently interviewed by the
I have lived to regret being understood so selectively. The sentence I said about what we have to remember is the investigation is still underway. I was reminding people that the defense might not be guilty. I think it frustrates my critics greatly. I stand by every word of it. [emphasis added] There was a racial incident in that house that was ugly as hell.
Among the “every word[s]” Tyson continues to “stand by”:
- “I think the spirit of the lynch mob lived in that house on Buchanan Street, frankly, and I think that we prefer to think of white supremacists as ignorant, pot-bellied, tobacco-chewing sheriffs and Ku Klux Klan members from Mississippi, but here we have the sons of power and privilege, the wealthy and well-educated among us, who are acting out this history.”
- Duke students not talking to Sgt. Mark Gottlieb outside the presence of their attorneys “may be illegal” and constituted a “terrible moral miscalculation.”
- “The neighbors who have no ax to grind in this, presumably, seem to confirm the charges of the women that there were a lot of racial insults thrown.” [emphasis added; there was one racial taunt from Kim Roberts, followed by one racial slur from a Duke student]
- “I wouldn’t let this team continue to exist until the police get some cooperation from them.”
And what of Tyson’s vaunted “reminding people that the defense might not be guilty,” which he believes “frustrates my critics greatly”? Here’s what he actually said, according to Tyson himself: “It is important for us to remember that an investigation is pending, and the police are the only people qualified to figure out what happened in that house altogether, and we have to support [the police] as they do that dirty job of trying to figure out what kind of ugly things unfolded there.”
That’s the same “police” investigation that among other things: never interviewed the doctor who conducted Mangum’s medical exam . . . ran a rigged lineup that violated the department’s own procedures . . . and produced the Gottlieb memo, the transparently contrived after-the-fact “notes” designed to fill in the many holes in Nifong’s case. That’s the “investigation” that Tyson believed “we have to support.”
This same figure who publicly asserted that a named suspect refusing to talk to a corrupt cop without presence of his lawyer might violate the law(!!) is now lecturing on race relations in