March 1, 2007

Seligmann Not Worth Hassle

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Reade Seligmann may be on his way to the Ivy League. According to reports by the Associated Press and The Brown Daily Herald, Seligmann is being recruited by Brown to play lacrosse despite his pending legal matters. Seligmann is one of three former Duke men’s lacrosse players facing sexual offense and kidnapping charges due to alleged conduct with a stripper at an off-campus party last March.

“I feel like, until they work things out, it might be a little bit early to tell whether or not the recruiting process should or should not be justified. But, for us, he is innocent until he is proven guilty,” said Cornell men’s lacrosse coach Jeff Tambroni. “This family — the Duke lacrosse family and the Seligmann family — has endured a lot of prejudgment. I’m sure they’re very aware of what they did was wrong, in terms of having a party, but in regards to the accusations that were made, nothing has been justified.”

The Duke lacrosse scandal, brought to the Ivy League? Recruiting an athlete indicted on charges of sexual offense and kidnapping, involved in the highest-profile sports scandal of the past year, appears to show a lack of judgment by Brown, and perhaps the Ivy League. Reade Seligmann may be innocent — for all we know, he may be a great person to build a program around — but is one athlete really worth all of that trouble that could follow him?

What if Seligmann had come to Cornell after the scandal broke? Especially in light of the recent Nathan Poffenbarger ’08 stabbing, I wonder how we as a Cornell community would react to his presence on our men’s lacrosse team or on campus. This question is not as hypothetical as it may seem.

“Prior to Reade going to Duke, we had recruited him here at Cornell and thought the world of him as a young man,” Tambroni said. “We did speak with him after this whole thing went down at Duke, in regards to the potential of a transfer — that was prior to his accusation by Nifong and the legal system down there.”

What would have happened if Reade came to Cornell? The team, the University, collegiate lacrosse — anything and everything at Cornell — would have been under incredible scrutiny from the media and the public. I would hope that coaches and universities across the Ancient Eight would seen this potential and decide it’s not worth recruiting him.

Another problem has been that there is a wealth of information floating around the media pointing to the three players’ innocence, but only a few people truly know all the details of the case. It appears many people are being influenced to take the approach, to quote a slogan reportedly seen at Duke’s opening contest, “innocent until proven innocent.”

I don’t think I have a right to judge, either way. No one does. That is why I’m surprised Ivy coaches are so willing to truly overlook his impending trial. I understand that, when it comes to lacrosse, the Duke scandal has tarnished the image of the sport, and reinforced some negative stereotypes about lacrosse players. I can understand why lacrosse coaches and players would want to give Reade a second chance to prove himself to doubters of him and the sport. But I still don’t believe that this is a justified excuse for potentially disrupting a team or University.

Apparently, some of the Ivy coaches feel differently.

“I don’t believe that there’s going to be a negative fallout from anyone in the Ivy League recruiting this young man,” said Tambroni, who has kept in contact with the Seligmann family. “I think when it’s all said and done, I’m hopeful that everybody will realize that this young man was put in a very difficult situation, and I’m very hopeful wrongfully accused of all accounts, and that everyone will see him for who he is … a nice kid, a hard-working young man with great morals and values and that regardless of where he goes, they just give him a chance to get his life back.”

Frankly, I’m tired of this case. I’m tired of all the leaked information about what did or did not happen. I’ve had enough of people taking one side or the other, the media blowing it out of proportion and generalizing the ramifications. I’m sick of the implications and everything else brought on by the media. Let’s wait for the trial, make sure justice is served and move on. But with all the baggage he brings, now is not the time to recruit Seligmann. I’m glad we’re not, and I hope Brown will reconsider.