Larry Klayman
Duke basketball and the nation's decline
Larry Klayman slams his alma mater as 'the Berkeley of the South'
By Larry Klayman
December 4, 2019

As y'all know, I am a proud graduate of Duke University, an academic institution on par with Ivy League schools such as Harvard and also the equivalent academically with non-Ivy powerhouses such as Stanford. Like nearly all Dukies, I've been a proud fan of its basketball program, particularly at one time under Coach Mike Krzyzewski, otherwise known as Coach K.

When I was a freshman at Duke, basketball recruits in the incoming class were required – before Coach K came to the university – like all other NCAA Class-A schools, to play only on the junior varsity team. The reason: Kids needed time, free of the pressure of high-level competition, to adjust to their academic studies and not be subjected to the limelight. And, when I attended Duke, from 1969 to 1973 and graduated as an undergraduate, ironically on the same day as Ken Starr from its law school, members of the basketball team, like all other students, were expected, if not effectively required, to graduate as well, after usually four years of study.

The cost of tuition, room and board in those days was about $2,200. In 2019, with skyrocketing costs for private universities, the cost of tuition alone was reportedly $55,695. In 2020, it is likely to be about $60,000 per year, and that is without room and board. In sum, to attend Duke in today's age will run well over $100,000 year!

So when a student athlete has the privilege of obtaining a full scholarship at Duke and equivalent schools, he or she is not only getting the benefit of a great higher education, one that will serve them well even if they decide after graduation to turn pro, as is true of the basketball team in great numbers, but he or she is also receiving compensation close to half a million dollars in tuition, room and board.

That being said, there is not only a push these days to pay student athletes directly for their services – and the looney leftist legislature in California has indeed seen fit to enact this into law – but also to give new recruits the "right" to leave school after only one year to enter the NBA. Not only does this make a mockery of academic scholarships, it is an affront to the rest of the student body, as well as alumni such as myself who cherish Duke's continued academic excellence as well as basketball prowess. For if someone like last year's basketball phenom Zion Williamson uses Duke only to advance his NBA prospects – and I am not blaming him but the NCAA and the university for allowing this – how can one say that Zion represents the student body? And, how can the student body, much less alumni and other Duke fans, relate to this bastardization of a great academic institution?

If this is the intent, to provide a stepping stone for a lucrative NBA career, then the NCAA should allow high-school athletes once again to go directly from high school to the NBA, as both LeBron James and Kobe Bryant did in their era. Or as the Ivy League does, do not offer athletes academic scholarships, but make then earn their way on the team as the students they are.

In this context, I am very disappointed at the approach and attitude of Coach K, who has sold Duke out in a cheap and whoreish way. Once California enacted its disgusting law allowing student athlete to be paid for their so-called services, Coach K quickly endorsed it, knowing that if Duke did not also offer this "right," it would lose top recruits, those in particular that have little to no desire to actually graduate, to California schools such as UCLA.

This is not the first time I have raised this sell-out of Duke either in my columns on WND or my syndicated radio show on Radio America, "Special Prosecutor with Larry Klayman." But the situation and the ethical and moral decline of my own alma mater under Coach K has now gotten more acute.

Sure, Coach K is a great recruiter and also a good "off the court" basketball coach. He teaches his teams how to play and play well, although in my opinion, even with five national titles, he has blown several other championships with suspect decisions during the final stages of title games. Indeed, if his skill during a game equaled his coaching skills off the court, he would probably have about 10 national titles by now.

And, just the other day, much to my sad, devilish delight – being the unrequited Blue Devil that I am – Coach K and his compromised "pro team" took a humiliating defeat to a university few people have ever heard of. This obscure school, Stephen F. Austin University, located in Nacogdoches, Texas, beat the living crap out of Coach's K's No. 1 ranked team. The primary reason in my opinion; the so called Dukies were playing for themselves and lacked the heart of really being part of my alma mater to get the job done.

This was a humiliating defeat for the corrupted Duke basketball program, but one it frankly deserved. And, while I will always root for my school, I see this defeat as comeuppance for Coach K having sold out the student body, graduates and true Duke fans everywhere.

But do not hold your breath that this will teach a lesson to the Duke hierarchy, which has allowed for this academic rot to infest an otherwise great university. Indeed in recent years, there have been other outrages, including the Duke lacrosse team debacle and allowing Muslims to disrupt the institution with loud, in-your-face prayer in and around the main quad and Methodist chapel. My school has sadly become the "Berkeley of the South," for its lack of ethical and moral fiber.

Indeed, the slime we see in our nation's capital, aka the Swamp, has also infested previously pure academic institutions of learning such as my beloved alma mater. It is part and parcel to the decline of our country.

This Thanksgiving weekend, let us be thankful for what made this nation and institutions of higher learning great and renew our efforts to return the ethics and morality and steadfast push to excellence that will hopefully endure and help insure our republic's survival for generations to come.

© Larry Klayman


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Larry Klayman

Larry Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, is known for his strong public interest advocacy in furtherance of ethics in government and individual freedoms and liberties... (more)


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