- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 12, 2006

College lacrosse will be without Duke for the rest of the spring. Whether the Blue Devils’ absence is even longer is of even greater concern.

The Durham, N.C., school has made no announcement on the status of its men’s lacrosse team since president Richard Brodhead canceled the rest of the season April 5 in the wake of rape accusations made by an exotic dancer against three team members in connection with a March 13 party.

Coach Mike Pressler resigned last week, less than a year after leading the Blue Devils to the national title game. Duke, one of the most recognizable names among the 57 schools that sponsor Division I lacrosse, began this season as the No. 1 team in Inside Lacrosse’s media poll.

“Duke is a very significant player in college men’s lacrosse, and to lose them even for the remainder of the spring is a significant blow to the picture of college men’s lacrosse,” Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. “It’s why we all are so concerned and so interested in Duke’s wanting to get this thing started again. It’s a very important piece of the college lacrosse puzzle.”

Added Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala: “Losing an elite program is not good. Having it be in limbo is not good. No matter what anyone says, Duke being good in lacrosse is very good for our sport. It really is.”

Little has emerged in the week since Duke’s season prematurely ended. The Durham Herald-Sun reported last week the school will honor any scholarship commitments, including those to incoming freshmen. Assistant coaches Kevin Cassese and Jon Lantzy remain with the program.

Chris Kennedy, Duke’s senior associate athletic director, did not return several phone messages this week requesting to discuss the status of the program.

The Duke situation could impact the ACC, the only traditional power conference that sponsors lacrosse. ACC officials have not started detailed discussions of what they would do if Duke suspends its program beyond this season, though the conference tournament could be a casualty.

“That hasn’t been talked about too much,” said Davis Whitfield, the ACC’s assistant commissioner for championships. “Our conference bylaws right now state we will not have a championship unless at least four teams sponsor the sport. If for some reason Duke dropped the sport — and frankly I haven’t heard anything about that — leaving us with three teams, then more than likely we would not have a championship.”

The ACC’s two-year contract with Baltimore’s M&T; Bank Stadium to play host to the lacrosse tournament ends after this year’s event later this month. Whitfield said there is mutual interest to continue the relationship, though no talks have started. In any case, it would likely become moot if Duke dropped its men’s program.

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