Former Duke Lacrosse Coach Critical Of School Officials In New Book

Friday, May 4th 2007, 7:07 am
By: News On 6

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) _ After showing initial support for the lacrosse team amid rape allegations against three players, Duke University officials caved to pressure, the team's former coach says in a book that goes on sale next month.

Mike Pressler resigned under fire last spring on the same day university President Richard Brodhead canceled the season _ a move the book contends helped harden public opinion that the woman's allegations were true.

``It's Not About the Truth: The Untold Story of the Duke Lacrosse Case and the Lives It Shattered,'' goes on sale June 12. It's written by former Sports Illustrated reporter Don Yaeger with Pressler getting partial credit.

Remaining charges against three former lacrosse players were dropped last month by Attorney General Roy Cooper, whose office took over the lacrosse investigation from embattled Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong.

But Pressler, now the lacrosse coach at Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., complains in the book that his name will always be associated with the Duke rape allegations that were dismissed as unreliable nearly a year later.

Pressler also questioned actions by Duke University officials, recalling an April 5, 2006, morning meeting with athletics director Joe Alleva in which Pressler finds out the team's season will be canceled.

``'Joe, you told the players and the parents you believed their story, you believed in them, you believed that they were telling the truth,''' Pressler, in the book, recalls saying.

Pressler said Alleva told him it wasn't about the truth anymore, according to the book passage.

Pressler says he pleaded with Alleva to wait for DNA results on his players, but a violently worded e-mail from player Ryan McFadyen about strippers came out later that afternoon. Alleva then told Pressler that Brodhead planned a news conference to announce Pressler's resignation and the suspension of the season, according to the book.

Duke spokesman John Burness told The News and Observer newspaper in Raleigh, N.C., that university officials did not succumb to pressure and made decisions at the time based on what they believed was in the best interests of everyone involved.

``We were relying on the legal system to ultimately get to the truth, and that's what ultimately happened with the attorney general's actions,'' Burness said.

Pressler's book is one of two about the Duke lacrosse case slated for release June 12. A third is scheduled for release in September.