“I don’t have any comment on that.” But we do.

Former Blue Devils basketball player Rasheed Sulaimon was kicked off the team in January 2015 by Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

According to ESPN (March 3, 2015):

“Krzyzewski dismissed Sulaimon from the team Jan. 29, saying the junior guard ‘repeatedly struggled to meet the necessary obligations.’ Sulaimon is the first player dismissed from Duke’s team under Krzyzewski.

According to the report, published Monday in the Chronicle, the Duke student newspaper, Sulaimon was accused of sexual assault by two women, who told others of the incidents but did not file complaints with Duke’s Office of Student Conduct or the Durham Police Department.”

Here is the problem:

“Sources told the Chronicle that officials in the athletic department, including Krzyzewski, knew about the allegations as early as March 2014 — 10 months before Sulaimon was dropped from the team.”

We have to wonder. What transpired in those 10 months that enabled a young man with two such allegations to stay with the team? One final quote from the article that is troubling to say the least:

“Sources close to the two women told the Chronicle that the women did not pursue school or legal action against Sulaimon because they feared reprisal from Duke’s fan base.”

The women apparently divulged the assaults during retreats; they did not know each other, so there was apparently no “collaboration.” After their admissions, the word spread quickly. Team officials were allegedly made aware of this in the fall of 2013.

What have we learned?

Duke has seemingly learned little since the infamous Duke Lacrosse scandal of several years ago. In that particular case, the students were falsely accused. Duke experienced the full scrutiny of the media during that period. It was an ugly time, and if nothing else, Duke should have realized that allegations of sexual assault must not be taken lightly.

In this case, apparently the following people were told of the assault more than 10 months ago: the team psychologist, the head coach, three assistant coaches, the athletic director and the assistant vice president of student affairs. It seems the only people not made aware of these allegations were the school mascot and the hot dog vendor.

Duke, as you might imagine, is now doing a legal dance. They are hiding behind their codes of conduct and litigation. Why start now?

Since no one in the Duke infrastructure has been made aware of the following, let me help them:

Reports of sexual abuse, no matter the gender or the circumstances, cannot be taken lightly but must be aggressively pursued – even if the charges take place against a basketball player at a school where basketball is King.

One bad choice, and in this case, at least two bad choices can bring down a program, no matter how iconic it may be. The player in question, Rasheed Sulaimon, in making those bad choices, will now suffer the consequences. He cannot escape them without help and an ethical framework.

At least eight people; eight adults who are supposed to be molders of young students into young men stood by and did nothing while these allegations were festering. Only when the allegations made it to the media and bubbled to the surface, did any consequences occur. Does that mean that would have been no consequences at all had the media not caught wind of this?

Fan behavior is understandable. We all like to get behind our teams. However, many, many other things in life transcend collegiate sports and indeed, all sports. That the women were afraid to report the incidents due to fears over fan behavior is so sad. We, as sports fans, must never allow our basic sense of ethics to be ruled by loyalty to a team. A team must be cohesive on any playing field; I get that. Off the field, each player must conform his or her behavior to societal norms.

What do you have to say, coach?

“Coach K,” you are a legend. But if you and the many others know something about this incident step up and say so. You aren’t helping the women or the program or the fans, or even the young man who badly needed ethical training.

Good or bad, the season will fade, but this kind of thing will not go away.

 

 

 

 

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