Duke's bid for an extra year of eligibility for men's lacrosse players isn't sitting well with Dom Starsia, the coach of Atlantic Coast Conference rival Virginia.
The Sun reported yesterday that Duke is asking the NCAA to grant the additional year because the team's 2006 season was cut short by the university after rape allegations -- since discredited -- were lodged against three players.
Starsia, whose Cavaliers won the 2006 men's title, said that Duke is, in effect, asking the NCAA to bail it out.
"I've got some real problems with it. Does Duke University deserve this resolution of the problem, over issues that were kind of self-inflicted?" Starsia asked yesterday.
"I feel like this is an out for an institution that has never stood up and said we made some mistakes. There's an accountability to what they did that they haven't owned up to, and now they're looking to the NCAA to resolve it."
Duke's 2006 season was halted by the university after eight games after a stripper hired to perform at an off-campus team party claimed she had been raped. Her allegations have been debunked and all charges have been dropped. This year's Duke team has advanced to this weekend's final four at M&T Bank Stadium.
Parents of many team members said they felt let down by Duke last year. Some said the university abandoned the players, buckling under pressure from faculty and demonstrators to take action against the team.
"It's a terrible situation, and I'm not sure what the right answer is," Maryland lacrosse coach Dave Cottle said of how Duke should proceed. The NCAA said eligibility petitions are sometimes resolved in days -- although some can take weeks. NCAA spokesman Bob Williams said it is unusual for an entire team to seek renewed eligibility.
Matt Danowski, Duke's senior co-captain and the Division I leader in points per game, said yesterday that he doesn't know if he would take advantage of an extra year, should the NCAA allow it.
"I've definitely thought about it, but at this point right now I can't tell you what I'd do," he said. "It's definitely a long shot."
John Danowski, Duke's coach and Matt's father, said the issue poses potential complications. He said he would prefer to focus on it after the Final Four so it's not a distraction.
Duke has 13 new players coming in as freshmen. If the NCAA granted the extra eligibility, there might not be room for everyone.
"If you think about the implications for the coach ... there's so much up to speculation," John Danowski said.
firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.comSun reporter Mike Preston contributed to this article.