Danowski among 4 returning to Duke lacrosse team for 5th year

Updated: August 29, 2007, 9:01 PM ET
Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Four Duke men's lacrosse players, including national player of the year Matt Danowski, will return for a fifth season granted by the NCAA to restore a year lost amid rape allegations that led to false charges against three former teammates.

Goaltender Dan Loftus and defensemen Tony McDevitt and Nick O'Hara will join Danowski in returning to the Durham campus for the 2008 season, team spokesman Art Chase said Wednesday. The players are required to pursue graduate-level course work to be eligible for the fifth year.

A fifth Duke player, midfielder Peter Lamade, has enrolled for an extra season at Atlantic Coast Conference rival Virginia, school spokesman Michael Colley said.

In May, the NCAA granted Duke's request for the extra year for its players who were not seniors during the 2006 season.

In 2006, the Blue Devils played just eight games before the university canceled what was left of the schedule as police investigated allegations a woman was raped at a party where she was hired as a stripper. Players Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and Dave Evans were later indicted, but the accusations were eventually debunked by North Carolina's top prosecutor.

Seligmann and Finnerty were suspended from Duke as sophomores after the allegations emerged -- Evans graduated the day before he was indicted -- but they were invited back once it became clear the case against them had no merit.

Neither player took Duke up on its offer. Seligmann said in late May he would attend Brown University, while Finnerty said last month he would attend Loyola of Maryland.

The prosecutor who pursued the case, Mike Nifong, ultimately resigned in disgrace as Durham County's district attorney and was disbarred in June for unethical conduct. In addition, he goes on trial Thursday in Durham for contempt of court for his handling of the discredited case.

The return of the four players strengthens a Duke team that went 17-3 in 2007 and lost to Johns Hopkins by a goal in the NCAA championship game for the second time in three seasons.

Last season Danowski won the Tewaaraton Trophy as the nation's top men's lacrosse player, finishing with an ACC single-season record and national-best 96 points on 44 goals and 52 assists. Loftus started in goal every game for Duke last year, while O'Hara played in all 20 games. McDevitt started 16 games after missing four games with a knee injury.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press