More on Alleva

From Durham-in-Wonderland – Comments and analysis about the Duke/Nifong case

Friday, September 02, 2011

A few items from the last week serve as reminders of the lacrosse case.

First, a teaser from yesterday’s N&O front page, highlighting an article to appear Sunday (that I’ll blog) on Mike Nifong’s ethically-challenged successor, Tracey Cline.

Second, college football fans might have read about the arrests of two of LSU players (including the starting quarterback) for assault. LSU’s current athletic director is former Duke AD Joe Alleva—who demonstrated a rather uneven record in the lacrosse case: he shifted from initial public support for the lacrosse players to sudden silence, even as faculty members starting publicly going after student-athletes. All the while, he remained on the job despite being involved in a boating accident that resulted in alcohol-related charges against his son, before moving onto LSU at a higher salary.

Alleva’s comment on the football players’ travails? According to the Times-Picayune, “For his part, Alleva said the current problems facing the football team are “frustrating,” but added that he understands how to handle delicate off-the-field issues from his experience around an alleged 2006 Duke lacrosse rape case that sparked controversy during his time as athletic director at the school.

“There’s a lot of similarities in this situation,” said Alleva, who has been at LSU since 2007. “I think it’s always disappointing when student-athletes don’t behave the way they’re expected to.”

A “lot of similarities” exist between the situations? Really? In the LSU case, no one appears to be denying that a fight occurred and that people were injured, though the players’ attorney has stated that his clients are innocent. (The lawyer has been careful not to deny that the players participated in a fight.) In the Duke case, on the other hand, the players’ attorneys consistently said that no crime occurred, and no physical evidence existed of any injury.

In the LSU case, the prosecutor and police appear to have behaved ethically—and, indeed, seem to have bent over backwards to ensure cooperation with the players. In the Duke case, on the other hand, both the prosecutor and the police cast legal ethics aside in an attempt to obtain convictions.

In the LSU case, there’s no evidence of race/class/gender-oriented faculty exploiting the situation to advance their pedagogical agendas (perhaps because one of the accused is a non-wealthy African-American, albeit one who owns no fewer than 49 pairs of shoes). In the Duke case, on the other hand, activist professors aggressively exploited the case, initially relying solely on the version of events presented by Mike Nifong—though most, in the 2007 clarifying statement, reaffirmed their rush to judgment even after Nifong’s case imploded.

In the LSU case, the accused players appear to have acted well outside the norm for LSU students (most LSU students, it would seem, don’t engage in bar fights). In the Duke case, on the other hand, the lacrosse players—along with hundreds of other Duke students, and thousands of students nationally—attended a tasteless spring break party; and—along with nearly 20 Duke groups over the course of the 2005-6 academic year, including some athletic parties—hired strippers.

Well, one similarity exists between LSU and Duke: Joe Alleva was the AD in both situations.

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