The college hoops community was stunned when Mike Krzyzewski suddenly dismissed junior guard Rasheed Sulaimon from the Duke basketball team. Many questions swirled about what led to the unprecedented move and now a report by The Duke Chronicle stating that Suliamon was accused of sexual assault by two female students has only served to muddy the waters more.
Separate allegations of sexual assault by Sulaimon came from two female students in the 2013-14 academic year. Both students voiced allegations publicly, but neither filed a complaint through the Office of Student Conduct or took legal action through the Durham Police Department. The students declined to discuss their allegations with The Chronicle.
In October 2013, a female student said in a large group session at the student-led diversity retreat Common Ground that Sulaimon had sexually assaulted her, three retreat participants said. At the following semester’s Common Ground retreat beginning in February 2014, a second female student said she had been sexually assaulted by Sulaimon, according to four retreat participants.
Common Ground is a four-day retreat in which students discuss identity—including issues involving race, socioeconomic status, gender and sexuality—through interaction with other participants, discussion groups and personal narratives. The retreat is held once each semester, with 56 participants selected from a student applicant pool.
A former affiliate of the Duke basketball program, who was with the team throughout the majority of Sulaimon’s basketball career, became aware of the allegations made at the Fall 2013 Common Ground. The anonymous affiliate began speaking to the female student in January 2014, and began speaking to the second female student in March 2014 after learning of her allegations.
The allegations were brought to the attention of a team psychologist in March 2014, the anonymous affiliate said. That month, the allegations were brought to Krzyzewski and assistant coaches Jon Scheyer and Nate James and associate head coach Jeff Capel.
The anonymous affiliate said other athletic administrators were then made aware of the allegations. Among the administrators identified by the anonymous affiliate were Mike Cragg, deputy director of athletics and operations; Director of Basketball Operations David Bradley; and Kevin White, vice president and director of athletics. The allegations were also brought to the attention of Sue Wasiolek, assistant vice president of student affairs and dean of students, according to the anonymous affiliate.
The question now is, was Sulaimon’s dismissal a result of these sexual assault allegations? A Carolina Blitz source close to the team says that Rasheed’s departure had very little or nothing to do with sexual assault allegations and everything to do with his tumultuous relationship with teammates and coaches. My source says Sulaimon got into several verbal altercations with both coaches and teammates, including a heated one the night before he was dismissed after Duke suffered a loss to Notre Dame. I was also told that these problems have persistent for some time, and although Sulaimon is a good player, he was becoming a cancer in the locker room and the team chemistry was simply better without him.
As a result of this report people will now question whether the program tried to cover up the sexual assault allegations, and when informed they would be made public, decided to try to diffuse the situation by dismissing the guard. This is a valid question, since according to the report, the basketball staff knew about the claims since March of last year, but it’s important to remember that all of this happened prior to the heightened sensitivity and attention paid to sexual assault that the Ray Rice scandal has caused. Without a formal complaint, it was hard for the athletic department to do anything.
The bottom line is, Rasheed’s departure from the Duke basketball team was a result of several factors, and although these allegations may be one of them, it probably isn’t the main reason.
So far, Coach K has declined to comment on the report.
Mike Krzyzewski no comments on Rasheed Sulaimon situation at Duke
— Dana O'Neil (@ESPNDanaOneil) March 2, 2015