Duke, ex-coach settle up

Pressler was fired amid lacrosse scandal

Staff WriterJune 8, 2007 

Pressler will coach at Bryant.

Mike Pressler, the former Duke University lacrosse coach who was fired amid allegations that three members of his team gang-raped an escort service dancer, has settled a lawsuit with his former employer.

John Burness, a spokesman for Duke, said the settlement was reached in late March or April. He refused to release details of the agreement, which he called "an amicable, fair financial settlement."

Pressler, who built a national powerhouse lacrosse team during his 16 seasons at Duke, has written a book about his experience.

He was fired in April 2006. His dismissal came several weeks after Crystal Gail Mangum alleged that she was sexually assaulted at a lacrosse team party held over spring break in March 2006.

In the immediate aftermath of the allegations, the lacrosse players were vilified as a team out of control, as hard-drinking athletes with a swagger.

Three members of Pressler's 2006 team -- David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann -- were charged in a sexual assault case that crumbled during the past year.

In April, state Attorney General Roy Cooper dismissed all charges against the three and declared them innocent.

Cooper described Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong as a rogue prosecutor who pushed forward on a case in which special prosecutors could find no evidence of a sexual assault occurring at the team party.

Duke settled another case that stemmed from the maelstrom over Mangum's false accusations.

Kyle Dowd, a former lacrosse player, said a professor gave him a failing grade because he was a member of the team. Neither side would discuss details of Duke's settlement with Dowd other than to say that he received a passing grade for the course.

Pressler's book

In his book, Pressler accuses university officials of caving to pressure from intense media scrutiny and protesters within and outside of the school.

Pressler says university officials initially promised to stand by his team following the party. Instead, Pressler says, he was forced to resign, and university President Richard Brodhead suspended the season.

Pressler is now the head lacrosse coach at Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., an NCAA Division II school.

Bryant won the Northeast-10 Conference regular-season title with a perfect 9-0 league mark this season. The team finished 11-4 overall.

Pressler spent 16 seasons at Duke, compiling a 153-82 record with three Atlantic Coast Conference championships, 10 NCAA tournament berths and an appearance in the 2005 Division I men's lacrosse championship game.

Staff writer Anne Blythe can be reached at 956-2442 or anne.blythe@newsobserver.com.

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