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ESPN 30 for 30 On The Duke Lacrosse Scandal Coming In March

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Lax MagESPN’s Emmy Award-winning 30 for 30 sports documentary series in March will feature a look at the Duke lacrosse scandal.

“Fantastic Lies,” will debut at 9 p.m. ET on Sunday March 13 — the 10th anniversary, to the day — of the infamous team party that led to a chain of events that drew white-hot national media attention to the players, coaches and the university for a variety of reasons.

Three players were accused of rape by a dancer, who was also a student at nearby North Carolina Central University, hired for the party at an off-campus house. In response to the allegations, Duke first suspended the lacrosse team for the first two games of 2006, then a week later Duke coach Mike Pressler lost his job and the university canceled the remainder of the season.

The allegations, which led to the arrests of Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and Dave Evans, turned out to be false. The charges against them were dropped 11 months later, and Durham, N.C., district attorney Mike Nifong eventually resigned and was disbarred.

“The hard-hitting ‘Fantastic Lies’ goes far beyond the playing field with an examination of how multiple factors led to a miscarriage of justice,” ESPN Films vice president and executive producer John Dahl said in a press release announcing the upcoming 30 for 30 slate, which also includes a look at the 1985 Chicago Bears and a documentary that examines the history of race over the last several decades through the lens of OJ Simpson’s rise and fall.

Marina Zenovich is the director of Fantastic Lies. She has previously directed documentaries on filmmaker Roman Polanski and comedian Richard Pryor.

ESPN says the Duke documentary “will return to the night of March 13, 2006, when Duke University lacrosse players threw a team party that ended up changing lives, ruining careers, tarnishing a university’s reputation and even jeopardizing the future of the sport at the school,” and look at “what became a national firestorm and resulted in a highly-charged legal investigation. Usually confined to the sports section, lacrosse suddenly appeared on the front pages of newspapers because of the lurid details of the case and the hot buttons that it pushed: sex, race, class, violence.”

Oh man how bad do I wish I was around blogging when the Duke lacrosse scandal was happening. Like the UVA story on steroids. Just reading a refresher on everything right now is making my blood boil – nothing more than remembering everything about the “Group of 88.” Remember them?

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The Group of 88 was a term applied to 88 professors at Duke University who signed an advertisement published two weeks after a woman asserted that she was raped by members of Duke’s lacrosse team. The assertion was later shown to be false, and the players declared innocent of all charges. The prosecuting district attorney Mike Nifong was judicially removed, charged with misconduct, and disbarred.

Karla F.C. Holloway, a professor of English and African-American Studies was the person who initially thought of placing the ad.

One signer, Kim Curtis of the Political Science Department, failed two members of the lacrosse team who were in one of her classes. When one of them appealed the grade, Duke did not act immediately; they eventually raised his grade to a D. Dowd and his parents sued Curtis and the university. Duke settled, listing the grade as “Pass”.

One of the signers, English professor Cathy Davidson, wrote in the Raleigh News & Observer in January 2007 that the ad was a response “to the anguish of students who felt demeaned by racist and sexist remarks swirling around in the media and on the campus quad in the aftermath of what happened on March 13 in the lacrosse house.”

Think we’re still waiting for them, any of them to retract and apologize right?

Looking forward to it – hate them all you want, but if there’s one thing ESPN does right, it’s 30 for 30s.

Hopefully by March I finally start to calm down from the documentary-manufactured outrage of Making A Murderer, not sure my heart can take all this.

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