A senior Duke University athletics official says that in retrospect, lacrosse coach Mike Pressler shouldn’t have been forced out after rape allegations were made against team members in 2006.
“I think that a lot of officials at the university have come to the realization or came to the realization within a year or so that probably, Mike shouldn’t have lost his job,” said Chris Kennedy, Duke’s deputy director of athletics, in a “60 Minutes” broadcast to be aired Sunday (7 p.m., Channel 3).
Kennedy says many at the Durham university regret what happened to Pressler, according to excerpts released Thursday by CBS. Three three men’s lacrosse team players were accused of rape in March 2006 by Crystal Mangum, a student at N.C. Central University who worked as an escort and a stripper.
In April, Pressler was forced out by athletic director Joe Alleva. A year later, N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper dropped all charges against the three players, saying they were victims of a “tragic rush to accuse” and justice was denied by “rogue prosecutor” Michael Nifong, who was later disbarred for dishonesty. Mangum was never prosecuted for filing a false report.
In the “60 Minutes” interview, Pressler said he has turned down lucrative offers to coach at other universities to remain at Bryant University in Rhode Island, the only school willing to hire him after the Duke scandal.
Loyalty, Pressler told correspondent Armen Keteyian, is everything. “And without that, as a man, you have nothing,” Pressler said.
Pressler improved Bryant’s lacrosse program so much that the team was moved up a notch to Division I.
Ron Machtley, president of Bryant, said he knows Pressler has gotten other offers and is grateful that he’s stayed. “He’s never come to me and said, ‘Ron, can you match this offer?’” Machtley said. “He has made a commitment to stay here and that kind of loyalty, which he showed to his team and which his team ultimately showed back to him – is something that’s very rare in society today.”
Pressler said Duke instructed him to distance himself from the lacrosse team in 2006 when the scandal blew up. “That was, like, blasphemy,” Pressler said. “We don’t run … don’t quit, you know … you finish what you start at all costs.”
Pressler, who later wrote a best-selling book about the incident titled “It’s Not About the Truth,” recalled getting hate mail and calls and signs were put outside his home mocking his support of “the Duke rapists.”