Not NCAA violation since players paid

Updated: February 10, 2004, 4:55 PM ET
Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Football players from Rice and Houston hired topless dancers for parties without the knowledge of the institutions, the head of the company that supplied the strippers said Tuesday.

The purpose of the parties wasn't clear, said Steve Lower, president and chief executive officer of Denver-based Hardbodies Entertainment Inc., which has branches in Houston and Las Vegas.

"The last couple of years we've done a few parties," Lower said. "They may have been recruiting parties, parties for players."

Lower stressed that the parties were paid for by student-athletes.

"Yes, these have been our girls doing it and no, the college has absolutely not paid for it, condoned it, or been aware of it," Lower said. "It's a tradition handed down from player to player to player."

Lower didn't say when the parties occurred, only that they have been in the "last couple of years" since Hardbodies began doing business in Houston.

Rice officials did not immediately return a call seeking comment, though Lower said the private university had left a message with him.

Houston athletic director Dave Maggard said if such parties occurred, neither he nor coach Art Briles was aware of them.

"We've talked to our coaches; I've talked to Art," Maggard said. "He knows nothing about it and we know nothing about it."

According to NCAA rules on entertaining recruits, a school "may not arrange or permit excessive entertainment," though it doesn't specifically mention what student-athletes may or may not do on their own. The NCAA didn't return a call seeking further clarification.

Lower said there are no legal issues surrounding the parties because his company demands employees follow all applicable laws.

Lower said players at Colorado State, Colorado and Northern Colorado also have hired his company's entertainers. All three schools said they didn't know about the parties.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press