Players assure coach they were not involved

HOUSTON -- Every Rice football player has denied knowledge
of a stripper agency owner's contention that his entertainers were
hired by students to dance at parties, possibly for recruits.

Rice coach Ken Hatfield, who gathered the players after word
spread that a Denver-based businessman claimed students from Rice
and Houston threw such parties, said his players promised him they
had no involvement in any such parties.

"There's no proof to show there were any football players
involved in any of these allegations," Hatfield said Wednesday. He
said members of all Rice athletic teams denied the statements by
Steve Lower, president and chief executive of Hardbodies
Entertainment Inc.

Lower told reporters earlier this week that Rice and Houston
were among several schools where topless dancers were hired to work
at football recruiting parties.

He softened his statement Wednesday in interviews with The
Associated Press. He first characterized his clients as
"players," then later only referred to them as "students."

Rice and Houston have denied knowledge of such parties, and
Lower now says his company never has done business with either school
or its representatives.