As discussion has arisen among students and administrators around the cancellation of Saturday’s Tailgate, Duke’s football team and its coach have stayed largely quiet.
At Tuesday’s weekly press conference, where head coach David Cutcliffe and a select group of players answer questions from the media, none of the Blue Devils advocated strongly for or against the ban.
Senior linebacker Abraham Kromah said that he appreciated the fans who attend games, but added that more student support must be earned through consistent winning.
Cutcliffe also refused to directly address the cancellation, instead making it clear that the decision was not up to him. Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, said Monday that he had the full support of Kevin White, Duke’s athletic director.
“I was not directly involved in that,” the third-year head coach said. “That’s got different circumstances, and that was a University issue. I’m not in the position to comment or anything because I don’t know enough about it.”
The official attendance for Duke’s 55-48 win over Virginia last Saturday was 22,741, the smallest home crowd of the year. The University does not release the official number of students in attendance, though figure was estimated to be in the low hundreds.
But on Tuesday, as he did after the game, Cutcliffe made a point to thank the Duke loyalists for their support.
“When you turned around and looked at the ones that [were] there, they’re unbelievable,” he said. “That’s why we went over there [after the game]. I was worried with some of them that they’d fall off the wall! I could hear them during the game.”
When asked if cancelling Tailgate would further deplete the student section for the upcoming game, Cutcliffe remained upbeat about students involvement in pregame activities.
“You’d have to ask them,” Cutcliffe said. “Surely there’s other things they can do. I bet you if they want to get together a little bit, there’ll be some crowds gathering.”
While Cutcliffe and his team have sidestepped the issue, Duke’s sports information department has been forced to confront it directly. After media outlets erroneously reported that Duke had canceled “tailgating,” the media-relations office fielded calls from fans and season-ticket holders and was forced to clarify the state of tailgating at Duke, said Art Chase, the University’s sports information director.
The statement the office released, a collaborative effort with Duke news, said that Moneta and students would work in the spring to create a “new form of football celebration.”
“[The news reports] caused quite a bit of confusion with fans and Iron Dukes,” Chase said. “Multiple offices got calls from fans and season ticket holders. That was what prompted us to release the [statement].”
The statement added that tailgating—not the event students refer to as Tailgate—would still go on in parking lots beside Wallace Wade Stadium.
“Duke University officials have cancelled a student ‘Tailgate’ event prior to Saturday’s home football game versus Boston College, but there will still be tailgating going on in the parking lots outside Wallace Wade Stadium,” it announced.