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An open letter to Coach K

letter to the editor

Coach, thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience your first four years as the head men’s basketball coach at Duke University. 

You arrived at Duke a few months before we arrived on campus. Four years later, most of us received an undergraduate degree from Duke and you were left with a record of 62 wins and 57 losses. It has been well chronicled that your job was in jeopardy, especially at the end of the 1982-83 season when the ledger was 38-47. But we want you to know we, as a class, hung in there with you, right alongside Tom Butters, President Sanford and many others. 

Because I thought I was a good basketball player back then, I used to play a lot of pick-up games in sweaty gyms up and down the East Coast. I cannot tell you how many times people would laugh when I wore a Duke t-shirt. The laughs would lead to cut downs and people saying bad things about our school and your program. 40+ years later, I am glad to report the projection and laughs are no more.

We appreciate the letters you have written to us, the emails you have responded to and the deep connection you have established with everyone who has approached you over these many years. This will never be forgotten. We will also remember you allowing us to brand the Class of 1984 as your “First Class” for alumni reunions in recent years. We know you have never forgotten where you came from. This is a lesson all of us should learn, embrace and use.

And a shout out to our Coach-in-Waiting Scheyer. Jon, we agree with Jay Bilas (T86) that you are going to do a great job. But the issue will be everybody else.

In closing, thanks for the ride. It is something we will never forget. We only wish you the best this season - and beyond – in all your future endeavors. 

Steady as she goes Coach. 


David L. Bowser 

Class of 1984, Duke University

Coach K’s First Class


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