Like many of you, we've heard rumors about Rasheed Sulaimon and alleged sexual improprieties. They've come to light in the Chronicle, and there are a few things worth mentioning, first of all this: like Coach K, we have daughters. We would expect any father with a daughter to have a fairly primal impulse when confronted with this sort of allegation. You immediately think of your own children.
If there is any merit to these allegations, we wish the women had pressed charges. That would have been the best course of action. During the lacrosse case, we increasingly objected because the allegations became more and more ludicrous. We can assure you that if a member of the team were facing credible charges, we would call for that person to face them in court. Rape, or any other crime, is not excused by status. If there is sufficient evidence to indict, then to convict, then by all means do it. Spare the next victim.
As it stands now, and this is very unfortunate for everyone involved, Sulaimon can't defend himself and the women can't do much to hold him to account for any crimes allegedly committed. That's probably the worst possible outcome of all.
As far as the suggestions that the Duke fan base would react negatively...no doubt some would but the vast majority? No.
This is not Florida State or Kentucky, where people defend athletes at all costs, or Chapel Hill, where things are so expertly covered up. In our experience, among the Duke fans that we know, we feel very comfortable saying that we know no one who would turn a blind eye to such allegations, much less harass the accusers.
There has always been a pride in doing things the right way here. If it turns out at some point that that hasn't happened, then we're pretty sure the general attitude would be to get to the bottom of it and make it right.
In one sense, we're back to where we were with the lacrosse case: allegations which cannot be proven and the suggestion that a powerful sports team is above it all.
One of the things we dislike about this column is that, beyond the allegations and whatever Sulaimon did or didn't do, there's a lot of innuendo and suggested impropriety, that everyone was aware of it and did nothing, ergo they're all bad people.
But there's an equally plausible explanation: they didn't do anything because there simply wasn't a way to do anything.
One person formerly "affiliated" with the program told the Chronicle that "[Sulaimon] should have been [dismissed] a long time ago. [Krzyzewski's never [dismissed a player] before. I don't think he knew where the line was. I think he really didn't want to do it."
Given what we know of Mike Krzyzewski, it's hard to imagine that, in the face of meaningful evidence, that he would tolerate such a situation. He's always been very loyal to his players, but not to the point of colluding with an alleged rapist (among other things, we're pretty sure that Mrs. K and daughter Debbie would be absolutely brutal with him if they thought he were doing anything of the sort). There's a lot we don't know but without concrete allegations and an accuser, what do you do? Where is the line when you are dealing with unsubstantiated allegations?
Frankly, without specific allegations or charges, we're not sure how this could have been dealt with differently. You can't punish people on hearsay and rumors or second hand accounts. We would be very sad to see a Duke player charged with rape, but we'd be much sadder to see a miscarriage of justice. We can absolutely understand why someone would not want to go through this experience and that's a very personal choice. It is a choice with consequences though, and possibly for others.