There's been a lively debate on our Bulletin Board recently over an editorial the Chronicle, Duke's student newspaper, ran a few days ago. (By the way, 2/3rds of your DBR staff is going to be overseas on different continents for a while, so we apologize in advance for not being as prompt as we would like.) The editorial addresses issues that we've commented on here before. For example, it starts out criticizing the men's basketball program with Nike, which has always been a source of debate among Duke fans.
For ourselves, we'd prefer that the contract was directly with Duke University rather than Coach K. Of course, if the University has a good reason why it should be otherwise, we'd like to hear it and are open to changing our mind, but Duke administrators have never been explicitly clear on the reasons why the contract is structured as it is.
All that is well and good as is the Chronicle's concern about "over-commercialization of college basketball," but the editorial falls into the realm of the bizarre when it ends with the lines, "It is time that Duke stops exploiting its student-athletes. Allowing them to coast their way through an institution of higher learning--without actually learning much, without actually receiving a lesson on how to lead their lives--is unacceptable."
To say that Duke allows student-athletes to "coast" through the school is so ludicrous as to make the editorial laughable. At worst, it's insulting to their classmates who value their Duke education. Guys like Shane Battier, Gene Banks, Trajan Langdon, and a whole parade of Duke players have excelled with their motivation and dedication and are models for how academics and athletics are not mutually exclusive. Moreover, there have been a number of players who have been suspended for academic reasons. No one "coasts" under Mike Krzyzewski.
Look at Jason Williams. He's returning to Duke and structuring his academic schedule to allow him to graduate in just over three years. He could have been the number one pick in the NBA draft but passed on it so he could mature as a student, a player, and a person at Duke. His actions speak a whole lot louder than an unsigned editorial. Fortunately, Duke and Coach K have established reputations through hard work and accomplishments on and off the court that make such comments seem downright silly.