"Around here, we believe the guys [former players Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and Dave Evans] are innocent," Antonacci said, "and that [last] season should not have been canceled."
“Perhaps that's true, but that's no reason to celebrate the team. After all, none of the three players charged with crimes surrounding a March 9 [sic], 2006, house party are still on the team.”
For nearly a year, the three randomly indicted players and their teammates have been assailed repeatedly by many Hoax apologists and enablers, not only for the crime that did not occur at the party last March 13, but also for everything and anything else that could be used to smear them individually and collectively. As a team, their names and faces appeared on vigilante wanted posters. As a team, they were paraded before waiting media as they complied with an overreaching non-testimonial DNA order, believing DA Nifong's false promise that the testing would allow them to demonstrate their innocence. As a team, they were reviled and protested against by certain Duke faculty and students, despite their innocence. As a team, they’ve incurred legal expenses totaling millions of dollars to defend themselves against a crime that never occurred. As a team, they fled the campus when the new Black Panther Party visited with a threat to conduct their own investigation. As a team, their season was precipitously cancelled. Most importantly, however, as a team they have shared their trust in truth, and their hope for justice.
While the ad hoc committee that Jones refers to did find that the lacrosse team was involved in numerous alcohol related incidents (including the conveniently omitted suspicion of throwing water, playing of a drinking game, and multiple instances of making noise), they characterized such mischief as:
“While the cancellation of the season may have been premature, plenty came to light when they left the field. Too much to be ignored.
“The ad hoc committee commissioned by Duke president Richard Brodhead and Academic Council Chair Paul Haagen found that lacrosse players were involved in 36 separate disciplinary incidents in the last three academic years, including destruction of property on campus, public urination and numerous alcohol-related incidents.”
“… their conduct has not been different in character than the conduct of the typical Duke student who abuses alcohol. Their reported conduct has not involved fighting, sexual assault or harassment, or racist behavior. Moreover, even the people who have complained about their alcohol-related misconduct often add that the students are respectful…”
“The members of the Duke Lacrosse team have been academically and athletically responsible students. In general, faculty who have had lacrosse players in their classes have not experienced disciplinary problems with the players. Over the last five years, however, many lacrosse players increasingly have been socially irresponsible consumers of alcohol. Their extensive record of repetitive misconduct should have alarmed administrators responsible for student discipline.”“By all accounts, the lacrosse players are a cohesive, hard working, disciplined, and respectful athletic team. Their behavior on trips is described as exemplary. Players clean the team bus before disembarking. Airline personnel have complimented them for their behavior. They observe curfews. They obey the team’s no alcohol rule before games.11 They are respectful of people who serve the team, including bus drivers, airline personnel, trainers, the equipment manager, the team manager, and the groundskeeper.”.“Finally, the lacrosse program has a 100% graduation rate. Alumni of the program apparently contribute to the community after college. We received letters of support for the team from two recently graduated former players who are presently serving in Iraq. A remarkable number of alumni are volunteer coaches for their local lacrosse teams. Many are employed in prestigious positions in business, law, and medicine. As evidenced by their support of the current team, alumni of the lacrosse program and their families are fiercely loyal to each other, to the lacrosse program, and to Duke.”
“In reference to the alleged racist behavior, Antonacci said he believes "the whole team shouldn't suffer for the actions of a few."
“Even if that's true -- and it's definitely debatable -- the overall body of misbehavior of this team wasn't the reflection of a few people. That track record was built by several players over a span of years -- too many sins over too much time to be written off as anything isolated.“That made Saturday's outpouring public support part of a disturbing trend. Duke lacrosse is more popular now than ever. The campus bookstore has begun selling lacrosse jerseys..“Most of the lacrosse T-shirts worn by the crowd appeared to be brand new.
.“Many of those shirts were purchased at the game. "Business has been great," said Jimmy "Zeke" Zechini, who sold T-shirts at a table near the concession stand..“But how much better was business compared to last year's lacrosse opener?."We usually don't set up for lacrosse," he said..“They didn't set up for last year's opener, when Duke was coming off its second Final Four in school history. So why now? Just because rape charges were dropped against three former players?“It's highly possible that Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong overzealously pursued allegations that lacrosse players sexually assaulted an exotic dancer..“But Nifong's actions don't make the lacrosse players heroes, nor do they make the program a collection of martyrs. At best, they are a group of young men with a documented penchant for bad behavior.
.“That's not something to proudly represent with a T-shirt. It's surely not something more worthy of celebration than a trip to the Final Four."
For his part, Jones appears to have anticipated that his piece would not be well received. On his blog, he goes out of his way to ensure readers that his opinions are objective and fair.“Even if the accusations against Seligmann, Finnerty and Evans are false, so many transgressions have been confirmed, while others have not been denied. Those mistakes should not be praised.“Neither should this team.”
“Business…here’s the scene from the first Duke lacrosse game. Bring the hate mail on.“Speaking of that, my editors and I made the decision to disclose the fact that I have had affiliations with both Duke and North Carolina in my four years living in Durham. Their concern was with people digging through my archives or this site, finding out some things about me, and assuming I was operating with bias when I wrote the piece.“Allow me to assure you that any opinion I offer on anything is from an objective position. That isn’t to say I don’t hate Duke basketball. I do.“But I also wrote what might be the most glowing piece on J.J. Redick on record (even though I had a blast taking shots at Duke, the piece is fair to Redick). I also wrote a reverential look at Duke’s run of ACC tournament dominance since the late ’90s. I also have written on the Duke lacrosse situation in an unbiased manner.“What I like and what I don’t like have nothing to do with what I think. And, for the most part, I write from what I think. Emotions are irrational, and I’m not irrational when I write. I might be wrong, but never irrational.“As it relates to this piece, I wrote what I saw and what I was told. Based on that, I wrote what I thought and noticed..“That’s the job. And nothing is more important to my job performance than integrity.“So say what you want about me, or call me what you will. But never, for a second, question whether I’m fair. I’m passionate and imperfect, but I’m not a fool. Neither are my editors. They never would have sent me to the game if they didn’t think I’d do the job right.“And that’s all I have to say about that.”