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Krzyzewski speaks out on lacrosse

For several months, one of Duke's most famous employees-men's basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski-remained silent about the controversy surrounding the men's lacrosse team.

He finally spoke out Tuesday morning during his annual summer press conference, calling this past spring the most "trying" time he has seen in his 26 years at the University.

"If you are going to be here for the long run, you are going to have trying times," Krzyzewski said. "Behind the scenes, I have tried to be very supportive of our athletic department, the coaches, the players, our president and the board of trustees."

Krzyzewski offered support, especially to former men's lacrosse head coach Mike Pressler, who resigned April 5. The Presslers and the Krzyzewskis have been close family friends for a long time, and Krzyzewski said he was not sure what Pressler had done wrong.

Pressler also broke his silence with an interview that appeared in Wednesday's issue of Sports Illustrated.

"It's on the record: Any time I'd been aware of something, I took care of it," Pressler told SI. "But the administration felt that wasn't going to be the case. For me to buck that would not be in the best interest of those 47 kids and all the alumni. Take a bullet? I'd do it again."

The 59-year-old Krzyzewski, who will head to Las Vegas next month to run the U.S. National Team trials, defended his decision to remain quiet on the issue, saying it was better for him to offer advice but not to speak publicly.

"It is important for me to remember my place," Krzyzewski said. "I am not the President, I am not the Athletic Director and I am not on the Board of Trustees."

Throughout the spring, some have taken the lacrosse scandal as an opportunity to call upon the University to alter its stance on Division I college athletics. When President Richard Brodhead reinstated the team June 5, he brought the Athletics Department under his direct control, but he also reaffirmed the University's commitment to excellence in athletics.

Krzyzewski said he took issue with those who suggested the role of athletics at Duke should change, calling that belief "narrow-minded."

"All of the coaches that coach here are teachers," he said. "I write about 100 lesson plans a year and they are different ones than the ones I used the year before. I then have a chance to coach games and all that, but we teach more than coach a game. We know our students very well and the lessons that are learned on the court complement the lessons that are learned in the classroom because it should be unified effort in an educational process."

One of the committees Brodhead commissioned in the wake of the lacrosse controversy, chaired by William Bowen and Julius Chambers, called on Duke to rethink the place of college athletics within the scope of higher education.

Krzyzewski, however, disagreed with the findings of that report and emphasized the important role that school spirit plays in the Duke and Durham communities.

Krzyzewski said he was proud of how the local communities have responded in the face of media attention.

"I love our community because for the last few months, a number of people who have come into our community and raised a lot of questions, which they are entitled to do, that could have provoked things that where not a part of this situation," he said. "Our community is so darn good that they did not allow it. I don't look at this being a white community, an African American community, a Hispanic community-I look at this being a great Durham community."

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When Brodhead reinstated the team, Director of Athletics Joe Alleva said he was working on an over-arching code of conduct for all student-athletes at Duke. Krzyzewski said he had given input for the initiative, but he warned against setting specific guidelines for penalties. He said coaches needed to be afforded the "latitude to lead."

"Our first rule with a team is, 'Don't do anything detrimental to yourself or to our program,'" Krzyzewski said. "That gives me a lot of latitude so that I can judge what is detrimental to them.... You don't let a rule govern what you do; you let a principle govern what you do. Instead of a code of conduct, I would rather have a code of values."


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