Duke Coach Resigns, School Cancels Season

Duke lacrosse coach Mike Pressler resigned yesterday after 16 seasons. His teams won three ACC titles.
Duke lacrosse coach Mike Pressler resigned yesterday after 16 seasons. His teams won three ACC titles. (By Chuck Liddy -- Associated Press)
By Joe Holley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 6, 2006

DURHAM, N.C., April 5 -- Mike Pressler, the men's lacrosse coach at Duke University, resigned Wednesday and the school canceled the rest of the season, as authorities continued their investigation into the alleged rape of a stripper at an off-campus party attended by members of the school's nationally ranked lacrosse team.

Duke made the announcement shortly after the Durham City Police Department unsealed a search warrant revealing more details about the investigation into the March 13 incident.

The warrant included the text of an e-mail message sent from the account of a team member, who talked about hiring strippers and killing them. Duke University President Richard H. Brodhead labeled the contents of the e-mail "sickening and repulsive," and in a separate statement announced that he was canceling the remainder of the men's lacrosse season.

Brodhead last week had suspended the season until accusations against team members were resolved.

"Coach Pressler offered me his resignation earlier this afternoon, and I accepted it," Duke Athletic Director Joe Alleva said in a statement. "I fully support President Brodhead's decision to cancel the remainder of the season as well as his outrage at the latest developments involving the men's lacrosse program. I believe this is in the best interests of the program, the department of athletics and the university."

Attempts to reach Pressler by telephone and e-mail Wednesday evening were unsuccessful.

The alleged assault has roiled the Duke campus and prompted charges of racism, while increasing tensions between the university and residents of Durham, a onetime tobacco manufacturing community with a large minority population. The stripper is black, while the men's lacrosse team is predominantly white.

The e-mail message included in the documents made public Wednesday came from the e-mail account of team member Ryan McFadyen, a sophomore defenseman from Mendham, N.J. It was sent at 1:58 a.m. on March 14, approximately a half-hour after police learned of the incident in which a 27-year-old woman, a student at nearby North Carolina Central University, said three team members raped, beat, strangled and sodomized her.

"Tomorrow night, after tonights show, ive decided to have some strippers over," the message read. "However there will be no nudity. I plan on killing bitches as soon as the walk in and proceeding to cut their skin off." The message was signed by what police said is McFadyen's jersey number.

Brodhead, in his statement, said the student named in the warrant had received an interim suspension and was no longer on campus. The Raleigh News and Observer, in a story posted on its Web site Wednesday evening, said McFadyen had been suspended, according to his lawyer, Glen Bachman. "I think it was a safety concern for him and the university," Bachman said.

A woman who answered the telephone at McFadyen's parents' home in New Jersey Wednesday evening said: "No comment. Thank you."

The warrant released Wednesday also added conspiracy to commit murder as one of the crimes Durham police are investigating.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2006 The Washington Post Company