15. In March 2007, the parties entered into an Agreement entitled "Confidential Agreement," Because of its confidentially requirements, Coach. Pressler has filed with this Complaint a motion to file the "Confidential Agreement" under seal.
16. At all relevant times, the defendant employed as its official spokesman, with a title of Senior Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations, John Burness (hereinafter -the defendant's official spokesman").
17. In the course and scope of his employment, the defendant's official spokesman made defamatory and disparaging statements against Coach Pressler that were published on April 9, 2007 in Newsday and later posted on a website, www.newsday.com.
18. The defendant's official spokesman falsely told Newsday that Coach Pressler was terminated because he had not adequately supervised his team. Specifically, the defendant's official spokesman claimed justification for the firing of Coach Pressler by stating, One of the things we certainly have come to understand in this case is that the coaches in general in each of our sports are responsible for the behavior of their teams." The defendant's official spokesman further drew disparaging and defamatory contrasts between Coach Pressler and his recently hired replacement, saying that the difference between Coach Pressler and the new coach was "day and night," and quoting the defendant's President Richard Brodhead as remarking of this difference, '`This guy's a mensch. This guy gets it.'
19. The defendant's official spokesman's devastating and false assessments of the plaintiff were defamatory and disparaging, and breached an essential and dependent covenant of the Confidential Agreement.
A LS Forum member had this copy of the April 9, 2007 article by Steven Marcus which is no longer on line. This is the article mentioned in Mike Pressler's lawsuit.
Duke looks within for solutions
April 9, 2007
by Steven Marcus
Whatever the state attorney general says and whenever he say it, do not expect Duke University to give the lacrosse players named in last spring's scandal any commendations from the University.
Reade Seligmann, David Evans and Garden City's Collin Finnerty indicted of rape, kidnapping and sexual offense after a female dancer claimed she was assaulted at a team party. The rape charge was dropped by District Attorney Mike Nifong, who himself is under investigation for ethics violations. North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper is reviewing the remaining charges. Finnerty has taken classes at Hofstra and volunteers as a coach at Chaminade.
None of the three have attempted to return to Duke, where as one administrator said, they are "no choirboys" regardless of the outcome of the legal matters. Duke has been humbled, knocked down a peg on the prestigious scale of universities, admits John Burness, a former Stony Brook University official and current senior vice president and media point man at Duke throughout the sordid episode.
We have been the exemplar of doing athetics and academics right, "said Burness, who was the assistant to the president at Stony Brook from 1969-73. "If this was virtually any other place in the county it wouldn't have led to this type of national attention. I think our arrogance over time contributed to this. That's part of the pedestal issue. Duke had become something like the Yankees in the public mind...People either love or hate us. We're held to a higher standard for students who are wearing our uniforms.
Duke reviewed its own house and is dealing with the exposed warts. A special committee found, among other issues, what it termed Duke's "own ambiguity regarding underage alcohol consumption [concluding that the University] conveys inconsistent messages and confuses expectations regarding alcohol. Duke University has fostered a number of problems among its undergraduates, including lacrosse players, by its ambivalent polices toward underage and over consumption of alcohol at Duke. The problem now needs serious review and remediation within the university.
"The report also cited an unspecified number of lacrosse players [in the past] who have"disturbed neighbors with loud music and noise, both on and off campus. They have publicly urinated both on campus and off. They have shown disrespect for property. Both the number of [lacrosse] teams members implicated in this behavior and the number of alcohol related incidents involving them have been excessive compared to other Duke athletic teams..."
Burness said, "We have much stronger codes that are bring enforced. We have a much higher degree of accountability; there's no ambiguity about that.
"Duke as a institution has a reputation to repair and that is paramount over clearing the names of the players involved in last spring's party at an off campus party at the off campus residence populated by lacrosse players. "We said at the beginning of this the ultimate test is not the issue itself, but more so five years from now when people look back and say how we dealt with it. "These are teachable moments. If you don't use something like this to do a little self-reflection and self-analysis, there's something wrong with you."
What are the things we should be looking at doing differently? How does housing fit in, what is the social life in a place like this and does it reinforce the academic and intellectual side of the institution. A lot of provocative questions were raised."
A major component in the Duke assessment was coaching. "One of the things we certainly have come to understand in this case is that the coaches in general in each sports are responsible for the behavior or their teams. "Burness said. That's why Duke doesn't have the same coach, Mike Pressler.
Former Hofstra coach John Danowski, who took over for Pressler, has added needed transparency. His team is an open book. Nothing is off limits. "Danowski is night and day. " Burness said" As our president (Richard H. Brodhead) said, "This guys's a mench. This guy gets it."
Even if all charges are dropped against the players, Buress believes other legal hurdles exist for the university. "We're expecting that there's probably going to be civil suits from folks trying to get money out of us, that comes with the turf."
Burness said there is a segment of the population that has asked him if Duke will apologize to the players if their legal problems disappear. " I said, " Burness replied, " for what?"
Hat Tip: Clowns