Long before the university was rocked by allegations that lacrosse players raped a stripper during an off-campus party March 14, Duke's highly ranked team had a reputation for swagger and a powerful sense of entitlement.
Now administrators are starting to wonder whether they put up with it for too long.
“Taken as a group, is there a special history of bad behavior with this team?” Duke President Richard H. Brodhead said Wednesday in announcing the resignation of the coach, the cancellation of the rest of the season and the opening of an internal investigation.
A black stripper who was hired to perform at a team party has charged that three white players choked and raped her in a bathroom in the early morning hours of March 14. Witnesses said she was also taunted with racial slurs.
No arrests have been made; police are awaiting DNA test results on the team members. The team's captains have acknowledged hiring a stripper and allowing underage drinking, but have denied any rape occurred.
Even before the scandal, the nearly all-white team had come to personify an arrogant elite on this privileged campus, a collection of Gothic-style buildings dominating the landscape of this working-class city almost evenly divided between black and white.
Nearly a third of the team's 47 members have been charged in recent years with offenses such as disorderly conduct and public urination.