Oklahoma Exec Behind Pro-Duke Newspaper Ads

By: The chairman of Chesapeake Energy Corporation has sponsored full-page advertisements in East Coast newspapers praising the Duke lacrosse team, his company confirmed.

Aubrey McClendon, who is a 1981 Duke graduate and whose son attends the school, placed the ads, which praised Duke's players for "standing tall
during extraordinarily difficult circumstances over the past 15 months,"
Thomas S. Price, a vice president for Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake,
confirmed Wednesday.

The team played only eight games last season before the university canceled the remaining schedule after a woman alleged she was raped at a March 2006 team party. Three players were indicted but eventually cleared of all charges.

McClendon said he got the idea from a fellow alumnus who purchased a
full-page ad in USA Today immediately following the Blue Devils' national
championship loss to Johns Hopkins last week.

McClendon crafted his own version and paid $400,000 for full-page ads to run in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Raleigh News & Observer and Durham Herald-Sun.

McClendon said he wanted to fund the ads anonymously, but newspapers
prohibit anonymous advertising.

McClendon's son, Jack, has roomed with a member of the lacrosse team for the past two years.

"I knew these young men, and from the minute it happened I knew that they didn't do it," McClendon told The Oklahoman.

"I knew that they were not guilty. I knew they were innocent of what they had been accused of.

"I knew that the truth would come out in time, and when it did I wanted to celebrate for these young men publicly their achievements on the field and off the field this year."


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