DURHAM, N.C. – Duke quarterback Brandon Connette will play his final season of eligibility at another institution, head coach David Cutcliffe announced on Thursday. Duke has fulfilled Connette's requests to provide permission to schools closer to his home of Corona, Calif., to contact him regarding future athletic and academic opportunities.
"First and foremost, our prayers and concerns are with Nancy Connette and her quest for good health," Cutcliffe said. "We thank Brandon for his many contributions to Duke University and our football program. We want nothing but the best for Brandon – both on the football field and off – and his personal situation is very close to our hearts. He's been an integral part of our program over the past four years, and we wish him continued success going forward."
Nancy Connette, Brandon's mother, was diagnosed with cancer in 2013.
Connette enrolled at Duke in January of 2010, graduated with a degree in economics in December of 2013 and is currently working toward a master's degree in Christian studies. Per NCAA regulations, student-athletes who have graduated can be immediately eligible at a second institution based on established criteria, which Connette is on track to fulfill.
"I could not be more appreciative of Coach Cutcliffe for his understanding of this situation," Connette said. "Being away from my family during my mother's illness has been the most difficult thing I've ever had to endure. I'm thankful that Duke University afforded me so many incredible opportunities – academically, athletically and socially – and will always hold my experience here in the highest regard."
In 39 career games as a Blue Devil, Connette completed 106-of-182 (.582) passes for 1,410 yards with 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions while rushing 228 times for 735 yards and a school record 31 touchdowns. He led Duke in rushing touchdowns in 2010, 2012 and 2013 and is one of just three quarterbacks in ACC history to rush for 30-plus scores in a career, joining the Georgia Tech tandem of Tevin Washington (38) and Joshua Nesbitt (35).
Connette holds Duke records for rushing touchdowns, rushing touchdowns by a quarterback, touchdown responsibility in two consecutive games (11 vs. Pitt  & Troy  in 2013), and touchdown responsibility in three consecutive games (12 vs. Georgia Tech , Pitt  & Troy  in 2013; tied with Dave Brown). Also on Duke's career charts, he ranks tied for second for most touchdown passes in two consecutive games (7 vs. Pitt  & Troy  in 2013), third in points per game (6.06), seventh in total points (194) and 24th in passing yardage. He is the only player in Duke history to rush for eight-plus touchdowns in three seasons.
In 2013, Connette helped Duke to a 10-4 record, the ACC's Coastal Division championship and a berth in the 46th annual Chick-fil-A Bowl by completing 90-of-145 (.621) pass attempts for 1,212 yards with 13 touchdowns and six interceptions while rushing 101 times for 337 yards and 14 touchdowns. He established the Duke single-season record for total touchdown responsibility (27), breaking the previous standard of 26 set by Anthony Dilweg in 1988. In addition, he matched the school single-season record for rushing touchdowns, equaling the standard set by Winston Siegfried in 1941 while his 84 total points rank as the fifth-highest single-season total in school history.
During the 2013 season, Connette accounted for five second half, game-winning touchdowns in Duke victories over Memphis (22-yard TD pass to Issac Blakeney), Troy (4-yard rush), Virginia (47-yard pass to Braxton Deaver), N.C. State (5-yard rush) and Wake Forest (3-yard rush). In a 58-55 loss to Pittsburgh on September 21, Connette became just the third player in ACC history to rush for 100-plus yards and throw for 300-plus yards in a single game, joining the Clemson duo of Woodrow Dantzler and Tajh Boyd. In the same game, he matched the school single-game record for total touchdown responsibility by throwing for four scores and rushing for an additional pair. Later in the season during a 48-30 win over Miami on November 16, Connette equaled the school single-game record for rushing touchdowns with four.
Following the season, Connette was presented with the Micah Harris Trinity Teammate Award, an honor presented annually to the member of the Duke program that displays the traits of a true teammate: character, unselfishness, compassion and pride.