DURHAM, N.C.-- On Tuesday, Feb. 23, Duke Athletics hosted ACC legend, Don McPherson, for a discussion with administrators, coaches, and student-athletes on the importance of honest conversations regarding sexual violence against women. Don spoke during our monthly Coaches Roundtable meeting with coaches and administrators. He started the session with the recently released Gillette video to spark the dialogue on how men need to be willing participants in the discussion about sexual violence. The session with the coaches lasted for an hour, ending with encouraging the entire group to become part of the conversation, and to begin with the student-athletes on their individual teams.
Don McPherson was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008. During his tenure as a student-athlete at Syracuse University, Don was named the unanimous All-America quarterback. As a student-athlete, Don spoke to community outreach programs to combat drunk driving. This started his public speaking career, which grew into a full program with talks on alcohol and substance abuse, bullying, youth leadership, and mentoring. He has worked and focused on the issue of men’s violence against women since 1995, when he became the director of the Sports in Society Mentors in Violence Prevention Program. Don has twice testified before the United States Congress and has worked closely with the U.S. Department of Education and Defense on issues of sexual violence in education and in the military, respectively.
Damani Neal, a redshirt sophomore on the football team, stated, “Hearing Don speak was eye-opening and informative. For me personally, he challenged me to look at broad and common social issues in a more abstract way. I felt almost as though he was challenging us as male athletes to take initiative in challenging social issues such as sexual assault that are present across Duke’s campus.”
Duke Athletics Personal Development programming for student-athletes, which has built on the curriculum provided in the First Year ACTION, L.E.A.D., ESPNW Campus Conversation, and Real Talk events, included a discussion with Don for the student-athletes. Student-athletes attended Don’s presentation during two evening sessions in Scharf Hall. Don spoke to the value of being a complete person, and the need for men to have the ability to express themselves in positive ways. Kyra Lambert of the Duke Women’s Basketball team remarked, “Mr. McPherson is a charismatic speaker with a message everyone needs to hear. We were privileged to have him come and speak.”