Following an 0-12 season and a second straight year without a win over a Division I-A opponent, nearly 200 Duke Football alumni will gather in Durham this weekend to discuss the future of the program.
As the team struggled on the field last fall, a growing number of former football players began communicating through a website to voice their displeasure over the Blue Devils' results. The group, informally known as "Concerned Duke Footballers," or CDF for short, lobbied the athletic department for a meeting.
Once the season concluded, Director of Athletics Joe Alleva invited all Duke Football alumni to this weekend's event, which was scheduled around the Blue Devils' annual team banquet Saturday evening.
The "Duke Football Summit" will begin with a social gathering at the Yoh Football Center Friday night, and it will continue with a series of meetings and presentations throughout the day Saturday at the Washington Duke Inn.
Alleva and head coach Ted Roof will address the gathering, as will other athletic administrators in charge of the football program's financial and academic vision. Duke President Richard Brodhead will also speak to the group.
The roster of former players scheduled to attend includes alumni from as far back as 1953 and as recent as last year.
"There were a growing number of former football players throughout the fall, as the team mounted loss after loss, who said, 'What's going on?'" said Mark Militello, an All-ACC wideout as a senior in 1983. "We wanted to know how we can help the program and the University and at the same time ask questions."
Since Roof took over the program on a permanent basis, Duke is 3-31, including a 2-1 record against Division I-AA opponents. Roof has brought in several solid recruiting classes, but the results have yet to show on the field.
"You've got recruiting classes ranked higher than Wake Forest, close to Boston College, higher than Boise State, yet it translates into nothing on the field as it relates to wins and losses," said Militello, who is one of about 20 Duke Football alums helping to coordinate CDF.
Alleva said the weekend would be a great opportunity to unite the wide base of Duke Football alumni and help inform them about the current policies governing the program, the financial status of the program and the future opportunities for growth.
"There's certain things we can do and there's certain things we can't do, and I want to alleviate those misperceptions out there," Alleva said. "I want them to get to know coach Roof."
Militello said although opinions vary, many alumni would like to see Roof given the opportunity to succeed. Former football players are concerned, however, over some coaching decisions and will ask some "pointed questions," especially as they relate to areas like special teams, Militello said.
In addition, the CDF will also look for a strong commitment to achieving success in football from the University administration.
"In every endeavor it undertakes, Duke demands excellence," Militello said. "Yet as you break it down, as many Duke athletic teams that are having a great run, there's this anomaly called the football program that has not had a winning year in 12 years and has the longest losing streak in the country."
In an interview last month, Brodhead re-affirmed the University's commitment to having a strong, Division I-A football program.
"I don't underestimate the challenges of it," Brodhead said. "We play in a very tough, a very, very competitive league. And there are many schools in America that establish the balance between athletics and academics at a different place than Duke does.
"We have to be out there," Brodhead continued. "We have to show special genius in recruiting because the part of the very talented football population that will be appropriate for Duke is a pretty small part of the overall population. We're just going to have to make the case that Duke is the place they want to go, that Duke is the place they'll have the most valuable experience."
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