Good point - Duke is thoroughly thrilled that Casey Cunningham will be in the room at Iowa St. I dont know him well, but from what I can tell, Coach Cunningham is a great coach, and an even better guy. This, along with other things, is helping Duke keep a positive outlook through this entire situation.
It is not easy - mainly because Duke knows he really did nothing wrong. You see guys getting released after getting DUIs or failing drug tests. Should Duke have just broken a team rule, and then asked for the release?? He is a good kid - and he can thank my parents for that - and he has a good, level head on his shoulders. He was a man about this entire situation - he wanted to be at NIU, and was upfront and honest about everything. It wasnt working out academically, and he asked for a release. He was not granted a release, and he wanted to remain at NIU. At no point did Duke say "I dont want to be a part of this program at NIU" - he always wanted to stay. He simply wanted a release to see what other schools had to offer him academically. Is that really a bad thing?? Sure, he could have done better academically, but he didnt. So, we have a kid who realized he was not in the best situation for himself academically, and wanted to find a better situation that would help him reach his dream of being a teacher and coach sooner. Is that wrong?? In our society, is it really wrong for a young athlete to go out and try to better his situation so that, later in life, he can be doing what he loves to do??
Again, Im never going to excuse Duke for his grades - but at the same time, I have been there before, and it is not easy. But, he did not leave NIU because of the grades. He was denied that release. He left because certain people at NIU did not accept him back into their lives and their program. Duke never said anything bad about those people. Duke never did anything wrong in that program - except ask for a release. Other than that, he was a total positive for that program. He worked the camps, and the kids loved him. He worked with local wrestlers, on his own time, and for free - just because he cared and wanted them to get better. He recruited kids to NIU - the coaches often looked to Duke to ask him about the top talent in the state. And he helped them. He represented the Huskie program with class on the mat, and off the mat. He was and still is an example to every other athlete in the country - especially those that have been around him.
Some people are trying to make Duke look like the bad guy in this situation. How so? Im sure it is easy for the people at NIU to sit there now and say "oh Duke always wanted to leave" "Oh Duke wanted to go to Iowa St the whole time". But, thats wrong. Duke wanted to stay (just as he told his teammates and coaches), but was not allowed to do so without some ridiculous terms, made up by certain people at NIU. When he did decide to leave, Duke looked at a lot of schools - all in the Midwest, all with Education Programs that he could get into. So, anyone who says "oh we saw this coming" must be some type of fortune teller, and should be making money doing that on the side.
Anyway - it is a tough situation, and I wish it had worked out differently. I also wish that every single one of you could sit down with Duke at some point in your lives and get to know him. You would find out what a wonderful person and great role model he is. And, I wish that you all could have been with him through this entire process, and seen the hurt he was going through because of the way he was treated at NIU, and the agony he went through in trying to figure out what to do with the final two years of his college career. It was not easy - he loved NIU, and loved the guys on the team, and felt at home in Dekalb. Heck, he even signed a lease for next year, because he expected to stay. But, he really was left with no choice - except to move on with his life, to a new place and a new environment. You all can take this post for what its worth - you can rip on me all you want. But, I know everything that went on, and I know whats true and what is not true.
Duke is happy now - and he deserves that.