Simply Duke Basketball: “In the Matter of Rasheed Sulaimon …”

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 The purpose of this article is to attempt to put a perspective on what is presently known about the Rasheed Sulaimon case,as it relates to the team, the university, and the law.

As we all recall, Rasheed was dismissed from the Duke Basketball Team on January 29th with a statement from Coach K that everyone has seen multiple times.  Here is the complete statement:  

“Rasheed has been unable to consistently live up to the standards required to be a member of our program.  It is a privilege to represent Duke University and with that privilege comes the responsibility to conduct oneself in a certain manner.  After Rasheed repeatedly struggled to meet the necessary obligations, it became apparent that it was time to dismiss him from the program.” 

Immediately, social media lit up like a Christmas tree with strobe lights.  In our “Point/CounterPoint Installment #4 – The Curious Dismissal of Rasheed Sulaimon,” we dove into the fray.  We encourage you to review it, as we believe we made some observations that were interesting at the very least. There is widespread speculation on many fronts within the media, so while there are plenty of facts yet unknown, there are a few things which ought to be part of anyone’s judgment of what has already happened.  As every media outlet has relied on The Duke Chronicle, so shall we.

  1. Common Ground: This is a four (4) day “retreat” where the students are encouraged to discuss, in order to be assisted in dealing with, issues from race to gender to sexuality to socioeconomic Status.  These are held every Semester with 56 students chosen from a pool, presumably of students who volunteer to participate.
  1. Allegation #1: In an October, 2013 session, the 1st student made the allegations of “sexual assault” is made and confirmed by three (3) other participants who were present.
  1. Allegation #2: In a February, 2014 session, a 2nd student reports being “sexually assaulted” and is confirmed by four (4) participants present.
  1. “Anonymous Affiliate” This is a former “affiliate” of the basketball program who was with the team throughout Rasheed’s career.  This “affiliate” became aware of the allegations made and spoke to the 1st female student in January, 2013 … and … the 2nd female student in March, 2014.

This same “affiliate” brought the allegations to the team Psychologist, Coach K, and his coaching staff. This same “affiliate” then claims that school Administrators were made aware of allegations.  They include the Deputy Director of Athletics and Operations, the Director of Basketball Operations, the Vice President and Director of Athletics, and the Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs. 

  1. Reports of Allegation: There were no reports by either of the students alleging “sexual assault” to neither the school, nor the Durham, North Carolina Police, either directly after the alleged event, or up to this point.
  1. Rationalizations: It is reported, by the “affiliate” that both the students making the allegations of “sexual assault” feared backlash by the Duke fan base.  Therefore, neither has filed a formal complaint with the school’s Office of Student Conduct.

Had an investigation been conducted, a disciplinary hearing would have been convened, the appropriate recommendations of findings made, and discipline meted out. As the students filed no complaints, you would think that the issue might tragically have ended. You would be wrong !!! 

  1. Title IX: We have all heard of this monumental Federal Legislation that had far reaching affects in their requirements of all universities.   Many thought it was only a mandate on female sports programs, but it went much, much further. Title IX mandates that ALL allegations of “sexual assault” MUST be looked into.  The Duke Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs, Sue Wasiolek, maintains that as long as the party’s names are reported, her office must investigate.  Furthermore, keeping all information confidential in compliance with the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA). This is regardless of the student filing of a formal complaint.
  1. “Rape” A Senior named Lincoln Wesley, a former Secretary in the Duke Basketball office, and Intern to the Office of News & Communication was made aware of allegations on 21 January 2015.  A fellow intern, claiming to be “best friends” with one of the students alleging a “sexual assault” by Rasheed, is the first to use the word “rape.”  Further comments revealed a fear of what was called the “power” of the men’s basketball program on campus.
  1. Administration Informed: In a very odd move, Wesley reports the hearsay to his superior, the Duke Administrative Assistant to Duke Basketball. Wesley had been there for over three (3) years. The Deputy Director of Athletics & Operations, Mike Craig requested Wesley come back in, met with him, and advising him of the proper protocol in such matters. Wesley reports that essentially the Administration, right down to Coach K knew of the allegations – quite presumably from the report to the Duke Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs after the revelation at one or both of the Common Ground “retreats.”
  1. Information Blackout: That essentially means that, under Title IX, no Duke employee of any kind is allowed to speak of anything having to do with the alleged event(s).  They are prohibited from disclosing anything, regardless of whether the student files formal complaints or not.

So, to set the record straight, Coach K is an employee of Duke University. That means he is bound by both the Rules and Regulations of the University, but also of the Title IX and FERPA mandates. As an employee, he had no latitude in how to handle the situation. He was bound by Title IX and FERPA restrictions mandating privacy.

  1. Rasheed’s Dismissal:  On 29 January 2015, Rasheed is dismissed after the previous day’s loss to Notre Dame.  His last shot in a Duke uniform was a dunk after a steal.  He played just 12 minutes. He remains a student in good standing at Duke who apparently is continuing his matriculation.
  1. Rasheed’s Silence:     As expected, Rasheed has, as they say on TV only, “lawyered up” and will undoubtedly maintain his silence.  It is presumed that he has been made aware of the allegations and the actions of the Duke Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs, Sue Wasiolek, who is charged with investigation of Title IX matters.
  1. Complaints: It must be pointed out that, as of this writing, no report of formal Complaints have been filed with the school, nor the Durham Police.  That means that there is no evidence in these matters, nor has there been any student that has provided anything but what is legally referred to as “hearsay.” Unless and until a formal Complaint is filed with the Police, it is our understanding that, under Title IX, the name of the student(s) may never be revealed.

So, here is what we have learned:

A.   We have members of the faculty of Duke University conducting these Common Ground “retreats,” where, on each of two (2) different occasions, a student spoke of a “sexual assault” by Rasheed Sulaimon.

B.   Those faculty members would have assuredly informed their superiors of the allegations in compliance with Title IX, regardless of the wishes of the student making the allegations, also in compliance with Title IX.  This means sometime in October, 2013.

C.    This corresponds when Rasheed has seemingly lost his place as a Starter on the basketball team, a guy who had started in 33 of 36 games as a Frosh.   Rumours swirl in the basketball community that he allegedly reported to school “out of shape,” even though he had played on the FIBA Under-19 Championship.

D.    Then there was the veiled and troubled comment by, then teammate, Tyler Thornton. “As a man, he has to step up and accept what he needs to do,” Thornton said. “We need him. That’s all I can really say about that.” While on face value, it seems to be basketball related, and very well might have been, it could be indicative that Thornton (and the team) knew of the investigation. It could explain plenty about their performance.

Imagine, if you will, what type of mental and emotional conflicts Coach K would have been having at that time.  He was required by Title IX and FERPA to continue with “business as usual” while knowing of the allegations from other Duke higher-ups, but not being able to talk about them, even to Rasheed !!!

Then to hear of a second report, but STILL not being able to react about it !!! Apparently, the powers-that-be at Duke found it necessary, after the precipitous spread of information, to allow Coach K to dismiss Rasheed.

Disclaimers & Comments:

We also do not condone “sexual assault” in any form. 

We have put certain terms in italics because they are terms that have different connotations to different people.  Italics are also used when a terminology or title is not specifically defined.  Our purpose is not to presume nor imply innocence or guilt. That is an issue reserved for a Court of Law.

While Coach K is prohibited from commenting, we now understand why no further comment on Rasheed has been forthcoming.  In one way, it must be a relief, a relief that has been manifested in a winning streak since Rasheed was dismissed.

In closing, we hope that this will somehow, someway dissuade those who feel it necessary to immediately look to decry, denounce, and discredit Duke University and Coach K.   They all have been required to walk a tightrope due to Federal Law mandates, while no formal complaint of any kind has yet been filed.

Thank you for your time in digesting our article.  

As always, but particularly regarding this matter, we welcome your comment both here and at our Twitter site:

 @SimplyDukeBB

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2 thoughts on “Simply Duke Basketball: “In the Matter of Rasheed Sulaimon …”

  1. Thank you for publishing this article. In my opinion you have provide more clarity about this issue than any of the previous articles including Sports Illustrated. Great job on your research !!

    Like

    • Thank you, Bill !!!

      It is always nice when our readers appreciate our efforts. After reading all the accounts, we knew someone had to put all the information in one place so as to end errant speculation.

      Enjoy the game tomorrow night !!!
      Rock On !!!

      Like

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