At the risk of arousing the wrath of the righteous, I would like to offer my impressions of Mike Pressler, recent coach of the Duke men's lacrosse team. I have known Coach Pressler and his family for at least ten years. Our children played together when they were younger and our families have done things together socially. Coach Pressler is humble, reserved, thoughtful and honest to a fault. He has great integrity.
On the occasions when Mike and I would discuss lacrosse and an upcoming recruiting class, his comments invariably focused on the personal qualities of the young men and how excited he was to have those families join the Duke family. He was always more interested in his team members as people than as lacrosse players. Like any coach whose value is measured by wins and losses, Mike wanted to win. But he wanted to win the right way, with players who were students first and athletes second-players who would be a credit to Duke University.
There is no question that bad things happened at the lacrosse party the night of March 13. At the very least, there was underage drinking and insensitive verbal abuse. At the worst, acts were committed that were truly horrible and that would demand the severest consequences for those involved. Of course, four weeks after the fact, we still don't know what did or did not happen that night, and whether or not the acts of which the lacrosse team members are accused actually occurred.
I am troubled by the lack of support for Coach Pressler from the athletic department. He was hung out to dry by an athletics administration that neither understood the issues nor appreciated Mike Pressler the man. Long before we learn the truth about what happened that night, and long before we learn the conclusions and recommendations of the several committees formed by President Brodhead to address the situation, the athletic department convulsed and threw the bab out with the bath water.
For Mike Pressler to offer his resignation was "appropriate."
For Athletic Director Joe Alleva to accept the resignation was wrong. Mike Pressler deserves better; so does Duke.
Professor, Dept. of Chemistry