DURHAM, N.C. – Duke University's highly ranked lacrosse team will not play again this season until school administrators learn more about allegations that several team members raped an exotic dancer at an off-campus party, the school said Tuesday.
President Richard Brodhead decided to suspend the team from play "until there is a clearer resolution of the legal situation involving team members," the university said.
The case has roiled the campus, raised racial tensions and heightened antagonism between the affluent students at Duke, which costs about $43,000 a year, and the city of Durham, which has a large population of poor people and is about evenly divided between white and black.
A woman told police she and another dancer were hired to perform March 13 at a private party in an off-campus home. The dancer, a student at North Carolina Central University, told police she was pulled into a bathroom, beaten, choked and raped by three men.
No one has been charged.
Armed with a judge's order, police took DNA samples with a cheek swab from 46 of the lacrosse team's 47 players last week. The 47th player, the only black member of the team, did not have to provide DNA because the dancer said her attackers were white.
"I needed to have the information about who will be charged," said District Attorney Mike Nifong said. "I feel pretty confident that a rape occurred."
Brodhead said team captains notified Athletic Director Joe Alleva on Tuesday that players wanted to stay off the field until the DNA results came back from a crime lab. In a statement, the captains predicted the DNA testing would clear the players of wrongdoing.
Brodhead said it was his decision to expand the suspension.
"In this painful period of uncertainty, it is clear to me, as it was to the players, that it would be inappropriate to resume the normal schedule of play," Brodhead said.
Nifong said the team members are standing together and refusing to talk with investigators, and he warned he may bring aiding-and-abetting charges against some of the players.
The alleged victim is black, which has proved a source of tension on campus.
"The circumstances of the rape indicated a deep racial motivation for some of the things that were done," Nifong said. "It makes a crime that is by its nature one of the most offensive and invasive even more so."
Angry over the team members' silence and the university's handling of the case, Durham residents have demonstrated on and off campus in the past few days. They rallied outside the house where the alleged attack occurred, and gathered outside of Duke Provost Peter Lange's home, where they banged on pots and pans until he emerged to answer questions.
Lange said Monday that he believes "the students would be well-advised to come forward. They have chosen not to."
A lawyer representing several lacrosse team members did not immediately return calls Tuesday.
The university's athletic director had already forced the team to miss two games because of underage drinking and the hiring of dancers at the party. Duke, considered a national title contender before the season began, has a 6-2 record with five regular-season games to go.