Andrew Giuliani, a senior and former member of the men's golf team, is suing the University and his former head coach for allegedly illegally terminating his athletic eligibility, his attorney told The Chronicle Wednesday.
Durham attorney Bob Ekstrand, Law '98, filed the suit against Duke and O.D. Vincent Wednesday on behalf of Giuliani, who was dismissed from the golf team in February.
Giuliani said that despite the situation, he will return to Duke in the Fall.
"I'm definitely finishing up and getting my Duke degree, no doubt about it," he said. "In terms of plans in terms of going forward with golf, I plan to continue to work hard on my game."
The suit alleges that Giuliani, son of former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, was wrongfully suspended from the golf team without warning. Vincent had cited several events that resulted in Giuliani's suspension, including breaking a club, "gunning" the engine of his car, throwing an apple at former teammate Brian Kim's face and being disrespectful to a trainer, according to the filing.
But the suit says the suspension became permanent because Vincent created "unique parameters" for Giuliani's reinstatement, including requiring a note supporting his return from each member of the team.
Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, said the suit was without merit.
"Duke's coaches and student athletes are held to the highest standards, which include a strong commitment to fairness for all participants in our sports programs," he said. "We intend to vigorously defend this lawsuit."
According to documents obtained by The Chronicle from Danielides Communications, Inc., which represents the family for public relations, a statement dated March 31 set out parameters for the suspension. The memo was expected to be signed by both Vincent and Giuliani, and a deadline to make a decision on Giuliani's status as a player was set for June 11.
The suit alleges that Vincent conspired against Giuliani's efforts to garner support from team members by taking measures to further reduce the roster: The team had 13 members when Vincent was hired in 2007, and the suit says he had planned to cut the squad to about half its size.
The statement on the suspension, however, said coaches should not take sides in the matter or influence team members, though it was expected that they would discuss the issue with the team.
"Andrew's suspension will not be definitive in duration," the statement reads. "He must have unanimous support from his 'team' members that they want him to return. The team will express this approval in form of an e-mail to the coaches describing that they want Andrew back on the team and why. Assuming this occurs, Andrew would then meet with the coaches and explain what he has learned and why he wants to continue on the team."
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our editorially curated, weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.
The members of the team who were expected to give unanimous approval were those on both the 07-08 and 08-09 rosters: Michael Quagliano, Clark Klassen, Adam Long, Chance Pipitone, Wes Roach and Matthew Pierce.
"It was plainly obvious to each team member that their own personal interests were directly in conflict with Andrew's reinstatement to the team," the suit reads. "They feared that O.D. Vincent could unilaterally dismiss them from the team without warning or notice."
The filing says the system leading to Giuliani's termination breached University policy and procedures.
"The only University document that is consistent with O.D. Vincent's scheme is the library's copy of William Goulding's [sic] The Lord of the Flies," the suit reads. "O.D. Vincent's bizarre scheme violated both the spirit and the plain meaning of the Contract."
Giuliani's mother, Donna Hanover, said the lawsuit was a last resort, after the family made numerous attempts to voice their concerns to University administration.
"It was enormously frustrating," she said, adding that her son aspires to be a professional golfer. "This isn't only about golf-this is about a career, this is about a person's reputation. It's about justice, too. When you find yourself in a situation [like this] you should be able to go and say, 'Something is wrong here.'"
Both Giuliani and his mother said they were surprised the University was not more attuned to their concern, noting the attention the school's athletic department has received stemming from the treatment of the lacrosse case.
"It was pretty surprising with what happened the last few years... that they weren't a little more open to listen," Giuliani said. "It really seemed that it fell upon deaf ears."
Schoenfeld said FERPA regulations prevent him from commenting on the specific situation, but added that the University has defined policies for student-athletes to report complaints.
The suit requests unspecified damages, a trial by jury and hopes to secure access to athletic facilities for non-athletes.
Giuliani was not on scholarship, though he said he had been offered a scholarship prior to matriculating. Giuliani was recruited by and previously played under legendary head coach Rod Myers, who passed away in 2007 after 34 years at Duke. Vincent was named his successor that year.
"I've been lucky enough to go [to Duke] not needing a scholarship, and I declined one because I felt someone else could use it better," Giuliani said.
He added that much of the appeal to join Duke's team, then, was the state-of-the-art facilities, which he has been barred from using since his expulsion.
Giuliani acknowledged that he has made an effort to stay out of the public eye, but said he felt too strongly about this issue not to move forward with his grievances.
"We thought, we will do this so no other student should have to go through it again. I think we can right this wrong, and Duke and Duke Athletics will be a better place, both for student-athletes and students overall," he said.
Giuliani declined to comment about his relationship with Vincent prior to his suspension because the case is ongoing.
Hanover added that numerous friends and former teammates-as well as members of other athletic teams-wrote letters attesting to Giuliani's character throughout May and June. The letters obtained by The Chronicle, however, did not appear to be from any current members of the men's golf team.
"He is without a doubt a credit to the culture and reputation of Duke Athletics," wrote one student, who identified herself as a member of the women's tennis team. "I am very appreciative and thankful for having such a great person as Andrew in my life and hope that he is given the opportunities that he deserves."