The son of former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani is suing Duke University, claiming his golf coach manufactured accusations against him to justify kicking him off the team to whittle the squad.
Andrew Giuliani, a 22-year-old rising senior, contends he had dreams of becoming a professional golfer and was dismissed without cause from the golf team in February without a chance to defend himself. He said in a statement Thursday that he sued “to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else at Duke.”
Duke spokesman Michael Schoenfeld said the university would “vigorously defend this lawsuit” and insisted on fairness for all participants in its sports programs.
Giuliani was dismissed because coach O.D. Vincent III wanted to cut the team from 13 players to about half its size, the lawsuit said. He claims a breach of contract because he was recruited by Duke's previous coaching staff.
“This has been heartbreaking,” Giuliani's mother, Donna Hanover, said in a statement. “We tried for many months to convince members of the Duke administration that this situation should be corrected and we are sad that we have now had to turn to the court.”
The coach said Giuliani “flipped his putter a few feet to his golf bag” and drove fast while leaving a golf course parking lot, according to the lawsuit. Giuliani also was accused of playing a team football game harder than the other players liked and of being disrespectful to a trainer.
But Giuliani says that conduct wasn't grounds for dismissal. Instead, he said, the allegations were fabricated during the coach's “rush to shrink the size of the men's golf team. … The termination of Andrew's eligibility would mean less competition for the few spots available,” the lawsuit says.
Giuliani's best finish last season was a tie for 36th at the Fighting Illini Invitational in Olympia Fields, Ill. His season competition average was 74.5, good for 12th best on the team.
The 198-page lawsuit was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court by Durham attorney Robert Ekstrand. Ekstrand did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory damages and the right to use the state-of-the-art Duke golf center while he is in school and after he graduates. It also seeks a jury trial.
The lawsuit said the coach created a “Lord of the Flies scheme” under which Giuliani might be reinstated. The reference was to the novel in which schoolboys trapped on an island tried to govern themselves.
Vincent said Giuliani could rejoin the team if each member wrote a letter that satisfied the coach in support of Giuliani, but if one member declined the suspension was permanent, the lawsuit said.
The coach then told players who expressed support to refrain until they talked more to Giuliani, and at the same time told Giuliani not to contact team members, the lawsuit said. Five players later wrote an e-mail stating that Giuliani should be removed from the team.