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Lacrosse coach at Duke quits

DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke University's lacrosse coach resigned yesterday and the school canceled the rest of the season amid a burgeoning scandal involving allegations that three players on the highly ranked team raped a stripper at an off-campus party.

Mike Pressler spent 16 seasons at Duke and won three Atlantic Coast Conference championships. Last year, his team appeared in the national championship game.

''Coach Pressler offered me his resignation earlier this afternoon, and I accepted it," Duke athletic director Joe Alleva said. ''I believe this is in the best interests of the program, the department of athletics, and the university."

The rape allegations have roiled the campus and the city, raised racial tensions, and heightened the long-standing antagonism between the privileged students at the elite university and the poorer people of Durham.

The stripper is black and said her attackers were white. Investigators and witnesses have said the lacrosse players taunted her with racial slurs and insults.

Students and townspeople have marched on campus and off in recent days, angry over the school's handling of the allegations and the team members' refusal to cooperate with police. Investigators have said the athletes are sticking together and keeping silent. No one has been charged.

The lacrosse team's cocaptains have denied that anyone was sexually assaulted at the party, as have attorneys for the players.

Duke, considered a national title contender before the season began, had a 6-2 record with seven regular-season games remaining before the scandal broke.

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