When he was kicked out of Duke’s basketball program in January, Rasheed Sulaimon became the first player to ever suffer such a fate under Mike Krzyzewski. The Hall of Fame coach had seen a handful of transfers come and go across 35 years at Duke, but he’d never booted a player, let alone dismiss one in the middle of a season.
Duke didn’t miss a beat, going on to win another national championship while Sulaimon stayed on campus, on pace to graduate early, and watched as his friends achieved the ultimate college sports dream. In May, Sulaimon announced his grad-year transfer to Maryland. He is immediately eligible for one final year of play this season.
Sulaimon’s mother, Angela, has remained mum on the ordeal — until now. This week she spoke out against Krzyzewski to Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun. Angela Sulaimon knows her son won’t “break the code” by saying anything negative about Krzyzewski or his former school — in part, she says, out of fear of Coach K’s power and connections; Sulaimon’s potential as a pro is foggy at this point — but mom will.
“Certain things he won’t say because he’s afraid of what might happen,” Angela Sulaimon told the Sun. Here’s more …
Angela Sulaimon said that Krzyzewski’s statement infuriated her and her husband, Kenny.
“He said on TV when he let him go, ‘It’s a privilege to go to Duke.’ He needs to take that back. It’s a privilege to go to college — period,” said Angela Sulaimon, who has helped put Rasheed’s four older siblings through college. “It was a privilege to have Rasheed. I promise you that not all of his players have the GPA that Rasheed had. If he had kept him on the team, he would have graduated in December.”
Sulaimon, who made our list of the top 100 (and one) players in college hoops this season, has taken responsibility in multiple interviews since his dismissal. He told reporters this week that he holds no grudges against Coach K or Duke.
“He’s not the type of kid who’s like, ‘I’m not in their program, so forget about them,'” Angela Sulaimon also told the Sun. “Friendship means a lot. He was very positive toward the guys he played with. They were like brothers. It had nothing to do with the guys. A lot of them felt like Rasheed got the raw end of the stick. I felt like Rasheed was sacrificed.”
Remember, there was another major story that centered on Sulaimon, something that came to light well after he was kicked off Duke’s team: anonymous allegations of sexual assault. Duke conducted a review — based off the allegations, which came from anonymous sources quoted in the school’s student newspaper — but no charges were levied against Sulaimon. Maryland says it also looked into Sulaimon and those claims before accepting him to attend school, which is notable, given it went through a similar situation with former Xavier-turned-Maryland player Dez Wells.
Angela Sulaimon believes the allegations were an inconvenience to Coach K and that catalyzed, in part, his decision to boot her son from the team.
“He didn’t want to deal with it. He wanted to go on with the season,” Angela Sulaimon told the Sun. “But there was no record, there were no formal charges. Nobody said, ‘Yes, he did it.’ The Duke newspaper tried to call me and one of them said, ‘Why can’t we talk to you and get your side of the story? Maybe we made a mistake with Rasheed.’ But I never answered.”
With Duke and Maryland no longer in the same conference, Sulaimon isn’t scheduled to face off against his former coach and program. The NCAA Tournament is the only logistical way Sulaimon could share a court with the Blue Devils again. If that were to happen, now thanks in part to Angela Sulaimon speaking out, it would be among the biggest events in college hoops come March.