A tale of two alleged batterers: Durham, football and the legal process



From left: NCCU interim head coach Dwayne Foster, NCCU Chancellor Debra Saunders-White and NCCU athletic director Ingrid Wicker-McCree at Thursdays brief press conference
  • Photo by David Fellerath
  • From left: NCCU interim head coach Dwayne Foster, NCCU Chancellor Debra Saunders-White and NCCU athletic director Ingrid Wicker-McCree at Thursday's brief press conference

Arrested on Monday, suspended on Tuesday, fired on Thursday. That was the fate of Henry Frazier III, coach of North Carolina Central University (NCCU).

Arrested on Monday, practicing on Thursday. That's the status of Hud Mellencamp, walk-on sophomore cornerback for the Duke Blue Devils.

The college football season kicks off next weekend, in Durham and elsewhere. In the Bull City, the unheralded NCCU Eagles will travel across town to Duke's Wallace Wade Stadium to face the Blue Devils.

It likely won't be much of a contest. Last season, a so-so Duke team beat NCCU 54-17 en route to a 6-6 record and a season-ending loss in the Belk Bowl. NCCU fared somewhat better in its season at 6-5, its first winning season since 2007.

With 40 lettermen returning, hopes were high for this, the third season under the leadership of head coach Henry Frazier. But now, nine days before the meeting with Duke, NCCU has been thrown into disarray.

NCCU officials announced the firing of Frazier following his arrest Monday for violating the terms of a domestic protection order. The incident follows his arrest in May 2012 for allegedly assaulting his wife in their Morrisville home. Frazier was put on administrative leave, and reinstated three months later. Meanwhile, a domestic violence protection order was obtained, and in July 2013 it was renewed. Frazier's arrest resulted from a violation of the order.

No allegation of violence was made in the Monday complaint, and Frazier, through his attorney, insisted it was a misunderstanding.

But it was enough to exhaust the patience of NCCU.

At a 10-minute press conference this afternoon, NCCU athletic director Ingrid Wicker-McCree announced that after initially suspending him, school officials reviewed his contract and concluded that there were grounds for immediate termination.

"The focus of our athletics department," Wicker-McCree said, "includes academic success, competitive success, institutional control and student-athlete well-being.

"Our primary commitment will always be to our student-athletes, our programs and our institutions."

Assistant coach Dwayne Foster was named interim head coach.

Meanwhile, across town, Duke head coach David Cutcliffe found himself answering questions about sophomore walk-on Hud Mellencamp, who has been cleared to practice with the team despite facing felony battery charges stemming from a fight he was involved in last month.

The Associated Press:

Duke coach David Cutcliffe says walk-on Hud Mellencamp will continue to practice with the football team while he deals with felony battery charges in Indiana.

Cutcliffe said Thursday the son of rocker John Mellencamp will remain active in practice and "we'll let the legal due process occur."

According to the charges, Mellencamp, his younger brother, Speck, and a third man are accused of beating a man at a party in Bloomington, Ind. on July 29. The elder Mellencamp turned himself in Monday (brother Speck did so last Friday).

According to reports, the injuries sustained by the victim (photos here) may be serious enough to require plastic surgery.

Mellencamp apparently has little football experience, but is an expert boxer, winning two Golden Gloves titles in Indiana, along with a Junior Olympics state title.

Mellencamp is not a scholarship athlete but a walk-on. He may yet face sanctioning by the university. Presumably he's being treated the same as other students who return to campus having been arrested for smashing someone's face over the summer. (According to Duke's Student Affairs website, "The university reserves the right to respond to any report of alleged misconduct on or off campus.")

There's no direct correlation between the case of a 45-year-old man with a prior arrest for assault and a 19-year-old student with an arrest for battery, of course—none except for football, Durham and male aggression.

The Eagles, now led by Coach Foster, kick off their season at Wallace Wade Aug. 31, at 4 p.m. Hud Mellencamp, No. 17, "could contribute on special teams," according to the Duke media guide.

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