Rice coach defends student-athlete hosting

Updated: May 25, 2004, 1:43 PM ET
Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Six former Rice University football players claim they were regularly taken to Houston strip clubs and offered alcohol while they were still high school recruits, television station KHOU reported Monday night.

One former player, Kevin Ford, said that while a recruit three years ago, football players who served as his student hosts took him and some other prospects to a strip club where alcohol was offered.

"It was like they had won a million dollars just because they could go and see a naked woman," Ford said. "When you're that young you're easily influenced by the wrong things."

Rice football coach Ken Hatfield and athletic director Bobby May told the station they had no knowledge of recruits going to strip clubs.

Hatfield said hosts and recruits must sign a document letting them know what they can't do during visitation.

"Before they go out, we want to say, 'Here's where you can go; here's where you can't go.' If he's not willing to sign it, I'm not willing to have him on my campus," Hatfield said earlier Monday, before the story was aired, at a Knight Commission meeting in Washington about reform in college athletics.

During the meeting, Hatfield also defended the practice of having players act as hosts when high school prospects make weekend visits.

"There's no doubt that a satisfied customer is your best salesman," said Hatfield, who asks his host players also to sign the form pledging to avoid certain behavior. "You've got to put them with your student-athlete if you want to know anything about them."

Rice is the nation's smallest NCAA Division I-A school with 2,800 students.

Ford said he left the school after being suspended for allegedly cheating on a test.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press