One of Duke's most prominent alumni has spoken out against the leadership of President Brodhead. Jay Bilas is a Duke Basketball legend and his career post his playing days has continued to live up to his star status when he played on Duke's 1986 National Championship Basketball Team. A graduate of Duke Law School, former Duke announcer, ESPN commenter, philanthropist, and practicing Charlotte attorney when Jay Bilas speaks, the Duke community listens. Recently his letter to Duke Magazine Forum was published on line.
"A true leader has the vision and courage to recognize what is right, especially in the face of adversity, and fears not the consequences of unreasonable response. A true leader needs not the benefit of hindsight to make clear the right path. From March 2006 to date, President Brodhead's mishandling of the challenges presented has proven him incapable of effectively leading Duke into the future.
While President Brodhead can point to a few ineffectually communicated words here and there for a feeble claim that he "emphasized" the protection of the rights of Duke's students, his claim fails the laugh test. The vast majority of his words and actions, and in many cases his silence, emphasized an aura of guilt of the students and of the university. From the beginning, President Brodhead abdicated his responsibility as Duke's leader to stand up for fairness and truth. Instead, President Brodhead chose the path of political expediency. He failed to effectively counter factually inaccurate and inappropriate statements about Duke and its students, failed to forcefully speak out against procedural irregularities, and failed to take appropriate action in response to repeated attacks upon the due process rights of Duke's students. That is unacceptable.
If such failures in leadership are not enough, for the same reasons that President Brodhead forced the resignation of lacrosse coach Mike Pressler—because confidence in his ability to lead had been compromised, and a need to move forward in a new direction—President Brodhead should resign or be dismissed. And, based upon [trustee chair] Bob Steel's letter of April 11, 2007, in which Mr. Steel stated that the board agreed with the principles President Brodhead established and the actions he took, the resignation of Mr. Steel and any board members that acted in lock step with President Brodhead are also appropriate. Duke Chronicle
Jay Bilas '86, J.D. '92Charlotte, North Carolina"
In today's Durham Herald-Sun, reporter Ray Gronberg interviewed Bilas about his letter who expanded on his remarks.
Bilas' unhappiness with the administration traces back to Brodhead's earliest statements on the lacrosse case, which in his view implied the guilt of the players even as they included reminders that people should presume their innocence.
Duke officials have insisted that Brodhead couldn't and shouldn't have spoken out more forcefully early on, a point Bilas said the president repeated during their August meeting.
"The president feels and told me personally that he believed any statement that he made would have provided the prosecutor with an opportunity to drop the charges, critics of the university the opportunity to suggest that somehow the university used undue influence in the process, and denied the student-athletes the opportunity to prove their innocence in court,"
Bilas said. Bilas added that he disagreed with those arguments across the board. "Acting out of fear of an unreasonable response is not leadership," he said.
Bilas also thinks Duke should undertake a second review of the administration's handling of the case.
The first, conducted in the summer of 2006 by former Princeton University President William Bowen and Julius Chambers, criticized some of Brodhead's subordinates but essentially said the Duke president did the best he could with the information he had.
Another review should "hold people accountable for the actions they took" and search for "the lesions that can be learned about how to manage a similar crisis in the future," Bilas said. Herald-Sun