March Madness: a phenomenon that grips the national sports psyche from the first week of March through the first week of April as teams vie to be invited to compete in the National Collegiate Athlete Association's . Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments to determine the national champions of college basketball.
March Madness captures Duke University annually, because Duke traditionally has strong basketball teams.
Last March, a significant portion of the Duke University faculty experienced its own "March Madness"--a very dangerous one--after stripper Crystal Gail Mangum, a black female, claimed to have been gang raped by white, male Duke lacrosse players.
The Group of 88 used that bogus gang rape complaint to vilify members of the 2005-2006 Duke University Men's Lacrosse Team, to challenge college athletics and to promote their political agenda.
The President of Duke University, Richard Brodhead, failed to rein them in and dress them down.
With the Hoax exposed, the rape charges voluntarily dismissed, the rest of the charges to be dismissed (after the North Carolina Attorney General's office has waited long enough that as few voting members of North Carolina's black community, especially the North Carolina NAACP and Durham County's black community, as possible feel disrespected as well as disappointed) and Durham County District Attorney Michael B. Nifong a defendant in a very serious ethics complaint relating to his performance in the Duke case instead of the prosecutor in the case, it is a fitting time to ponder whether the wrongfully maligned players will be suing 88ers and Duke University for the harm inflicted on them by the way they exploited the situation.
Legendary Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K) is not in a position to publicly urge the lacrosse players to sue, but his comments on HBO's "Costas Tonight" suggest that he is ashamed of Duke, disgusted with the 88ers and not the lacrosse players, and maybe even of himself, for not doing more sooner to support those players.
Coach K on HBO: "We had almost 100 professors come out publicly against certain things in athletics. And I was a lit bit shocked at that. But it shows that there's latent hostility or whatever you want to call it toward sports on campus. I thought it was inappropriate, to be quite frank with you."
I call it an unwarranted animosity toward college athletes and I thought what those professors did was inappropriate with respect to Duke athletes generally and outrageous with respect to the men's lacrosse players falsely portrayed as racist rapists and/or protectors of racist rapists.
I wonder whether the 88ers influenced Coach K, because as late as last September Coach K still seemed to suspect something terrible had happened at the party.
"Nearly six months after rape allegations were first made against members of the Duke lacrosse team, basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski and other athletic administrators gathered with the school's athletes for a closed-door pep talk to start the school year.
"'What this situation this spring did was that people wanted to put a cloud over all of athletics and specifically lacrosse, and I don't think that's fair, quite frankly, because we have so many great kids,' Krzyzewski told The Herald-Sun of Durham. 'If somebody did something wrong, then hold them accountable, but don't indict everyone. So tonight was about saying to the rest of the student-athletes, "Hey, y'all are good. Have a great year. Let's keep pursuing excellence."'"
Coach K on HBO: "The one thing that I wish we would have done is just out, publicly say, 'Look those are our kids. And we're going to support 'em, because they are still our kids.' That's what I wish we would have done. And I'm not sure that we did."
Coach K, the players and their families and friends, among others, are sure that was NOT done.
Since sophomores Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty were banned from campus as well as suspended (for being in the wrong place at the wrong time), how could they have felt supported? And how could they be expected to come back when the truth prevailed and Duke legal advisers figured out that inviting them back might help improve Duke's public image and mitigate damages if they sued?
A Baltimore Sun article dated June 21, 2006 and entitled "Lacrosse scandal a 'trying time' at Duke, Krzyzewski says" reported that Coach K chose to be publicly silent for more than three months and suggested that he privately feared that something horrible had happened:
"Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski calls the past few months the most 'trying time' he's seen at the school, and he withheld comment on the lacrosse scandal until now because he felt it was the right thing to do.
"The Hall of Fame coach has won three national championships and reached 10 Final Fours. He has been at Duke 26 years and is considered by many the face of the university.
"'If you're going to be in here for the long run, you're going to have trying times,' Krzyzewski said yesterday in Durham, N.C. 'That's just what happens, whether it's a business, a family or a university if you're in it for the long haul.'"
Coach K obviously is in it "for the long haul" and rationalized his silence by saying, "I think it's important for me to remember my place." He added that he had tried to "lend whatever guidance or insights [he] might have into the situation" to Duke officials, including President Brodhead, and had said "behind the scenes," "We're with you. We'll see what happens, and whatever happened if you did it, you should be punished."
But NONE of the players had behaved feloniously.
To be sure, Coach K disappointed the 88ers too, by refusing to join them, but their venom seemed to have affected him.
88er Houston Baker (fortunately for Duke, a former Duke professor) had railed: "Why aren't such stalwarts of Duke athletics publicly and courageously addressing the horrors that have occurred in their own domain? We remember the very first day of our new President's administration — how he and Coach K shared the media dais, and the basketball magnate was praised for his bold leadership."
That was wishful thinking on the part of 88er Baker.
Author James K. Fitzpatrick, in an article on the Duke case posted by Catholic Exchange on January 10, 2007, devastatingly decried the "madness" of the 88ers:
"There are times when a community can get caught up in a lynch-mob mentality before the facts are in. Certain members of the Duke faculty have shown us that. Houston A. Baker..., is a good example. Baker didn't need the facts to form his opinions about what happened. (Neither did 88 other members of the Duke faculty, who issued a letter in support of protestors who branded the players as 'rapists.')"
The agenda-driven 88er position, as verbalized by Professor Baker, was that the Duke administration tolerated a "culture of silence that seeks to protect white, male, athletic violence and which apparently prevents all university citizens from even surveying the known facts[.] How can one begin to answer the cardinal question: What have Duke and its leadership done to address this horrific, racist incident alleged to have occurred in a university-owned property in the presence of members of one of its athletic teams?"
BUT...the "horrific, racist incident" was the making of a false gang rape charge by a black stripper against white Duke lacrosse players who had made the mistake of hiring strippers for an off-campus party during spring break.
88er Baker: "Young, white, violent, drunken men among us — implicitly boasted by our athletic directors and administrators — have injured lives. There is scarcely any shame more egregious than one that wraps itself in the pious sentimentalism of liberal rhetoric as though such a wrap really constituted moral and ethical action."
BUT IT WAS WHAT DEFENDANT DAVID EVANS CALLED "A FANTASTIC LIE"!
And the great shame is that the 88ers are just about all shameless.
Mr. Fitzpatrick: "What does Baker mean by a 'pious sentimentalism of liberal rhetoric'? The presumption of innocence until proven guilty. He felt no need to extend it to 'male athletes, veritably given license to rape, maraud, deploy hate speech, and feel proud of themselves in the bargain,' and 'who may well feel they can claim innocence and sport their disgraced jerseys on campus, safe under the cover of silent whiteness.'"
These proponents of political correctness are the hypocrites.
Ms. Mangum was NOT a victim. She was not physically abused at the party. There was no "cover of silent whiteness." There was an attempted frame and an abusive prosecution for which the 88ers share blame.
88er Baker: "[W]e have been deeply embarrassed by the silence that seems to surround this white, male athletic team's racist assaults (by words, certainly — deeds, possibly) in our community."
The Truth: The 88ers, by their words, certainly--deeds, in some instances) harmed and
endangered the players, exposed their own bias and enormously embarrassed themselves and Duke University.
88er Baker asked, will this "black woman injured by the white lacrosse team's out-of-control violent partying [Ms. Mangum] ever sleep again? Will she ever again rest in her life?"
There was no "out-of-control violent partying" or injury to Ms. Mangum.
There WAS injury to the wrongly accused players and their families.
88er Baker: "How many mandates concerning safe, responsible campus citizenship must be transgressed by white athletes' violent racism before our university's offices of administration, athletics, security, and publicity courageously declare: enough! How many more people of color must fall victim to violent, white, male, athletic privilege before coaches who make Chevrolet and American Express commercials" are willing "to damn the unconscionable?"
Fortunately, the 88ers were not invited to do lucrative commercials and Coach K was not bullied into joining the 88ers' "March Madness."
Unfortunately, Coach K did not promptly and publicly support due process and the presumption of innocence for Duke lacrosse players.
Mr. Fitzpatrick is right. He certainly did not minimize, much less excuse, "the coarse and vulgar 'Animal House' behavior that can be found on many college campuses these days." Instead, he maintained perspective and realized "that sort of stupidity and vulgarity is a far cry from rape" and "Members of the Duke faculty, such as Professor Baker, were willing to disregard these distinctions and join in a chorus that would have sent these lacrosse players to prison for something that it is becoming clearer with each passing day that they did not do."
Mr. Fitzpatrick's conclusion: "Baker writes of a 'dark moment' at Duke. Precisely. But it has more to do with people like him than these lacrosse players."
It was the 88ers' own "March Madness" (and now they are mad that they have been exposed).
Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member.
Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with Honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's New College, and received his J.D. degree from St. John's Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote on the Pentagon Papers case for the Review and obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer and edited the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law.
The day after graduating, Gaynor joined the Fulton firm, where he focused on litigation and corporate law. In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed Gaynor & Bass and then conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed in the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation.
Gaynor currently contributes regularly to www.MichNews.com, www.RenewAmerica.com, www.WebCommentary.com, www.PostChronicle.com and www.therealitycheck.org and has contributed to many other websites. He has written extensively on political and religious issues, notably the Terry Schiavo case, the Duke "no rape" case, ACORN and canon law, and appeared as a guest on television and radio. He was acknowledged in Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, and Culture of Corruption, by Michelle Malkin. He appeared on "Your World With Cavuto" to promote an eBay boycott that he initiated and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the Schiavo case. On October 22, 2008, Gaynor was the first to report that The New York Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose on which a Times reporter had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief.