Duke team takes field, moves on

Published May 30, 2007

Duke lacrosse players have been called a lot of things during the past 14 months: "elite," "privileged," "rapists," "hooligans" and finally "innocent." On Monday they were called runners-up as they fell to Johns Hopkins in the national title game.

Just competing in a national championship was a remarkable accomplishment for a team forced to endure the firing of its veteran coach, the cancellation of a promising season and the school suspension and character assassination of three of its players at the hands of an overzealous and unethical district attorney.

On the heels of accusations that three players raped an exotic dancer at a March 2006 team party, players not only had to contend with padded and stick-wielding opponents on the field but with civil rights leaders, judgmental professors and an outraged community that cared not for the credo "innocent until proven guilty."

Some even refuse to let the ordeal rest after North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper not only dropped all charges against the players in December but declared them innocent victims of a "tragic rush to accuse."

It's time for everyone, except for Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong who must be held accountable at a state ethics trial next month, to move on. As for the accused players, Reade Seligmann announced Tuesday that he will enroll at Brown University where he'll play lacrosse. David Evans earned his Duke degree last year. Collin Finnerty has been invited back to Duke but he is undecided.

With the team's tournament performance, Duke lacrosse players should be remembered for something they actually did do.