February 11, 2004

In case you've ever wondered, this is exactly the sort of thing that makes athletic directors chug Maalox.

The president of a company that employs topless dancers said Tuesday his strippers have been hired by students at Rice University and the University of Houston to perform at parties that might have been attended by student-athletes or prospective student-athletes.

Steve Lower, whose Denver-based Hardbodies Entertainment Inc. employs about 15 dancers in Houston, said such parties are commonplace in Colorado and, to his knowledge, elsewhere around the nation.

"It's a tradition handed down from player to player to player," Lower said. "But colleges and universities have absolutely no knowledge of these parties. They're paid for by players or friends of players, and they're not happening on campus."

Lower first disclosed that Hardbodies dancers had danced at parties involving student-athletes as recently as two weeks ago at the University of Colorado. He subsequently said Colorado should not be singled out because such parties happened elsewhere, such as at Rice and UH.

"We have supplied entertainers for parties at the University of Houston and Rice," he said. "Whether they were recruit parties, I don't know."

Boy, that sure sounds bad, doesn't it? Well, maybe. Look a little farther down, though, and see if you see what I see:

Lower said he opened the Houston branch of his business, which also includes branches in Denver and Las Vegas, about 18 months ago. He said he was not as familiar with the Houston operation as the Denver branch and thus could not say if dancers had been hired here to perform for recruits.

"Usually the only way we find out that recruits were there is if the girls tell us," he said.

University of Houston athletic director Dave Maggard said UH "has no knowledge of and does not condone the type of `recruitment' activity" described by Lower.

"We expect our student-athletes to act responsibly at all times," he added. "We are concerned about these allegations and will investigate them completely."

Maggard said Lower was unable to give him a definitive answer when he asked if UH student-athletes had hired dancers.

"He indicated to me that University of Houston students had utilized this service," Maggard said. "My question was, `Are you talking about student-athletes or students?' and he said `students.' I said `athletes?' and he said, `I'm not sure. I would assume that athletes may have been involved.'

"No one in our department knows anything about this, and this fellow (Lower) indicated that no one at the school knows anything about it other than the students (who hired the dancers)." Maggard said. "He said at all the institutions where he has done, quote, business, it has all been through students."


At Rice, spokesman Terry Shepard said university president Malcolm Gillis had asked athletic director Bobby May and vice president for student affairs Zenaido Camacho to determine whether such parties had taken place on campus.

Shepard said Rice officials had no knowledge of the parties described by Lower and that if such gatherings took place, they were "completely out of line with the university's standards."

"I can't believe any of our athletes are that stupid," Gillis said in a university statement. "However, if it is proven that any of them or anyone at Rice had anything to do with such a thing, it would go very hard on them."

May said Rice officials were unable to find any reference to Hardbodies in its athletic department records.

"We will do our best to find out if there is any activity that would link our players with that organization, but we have no evidence of that," he said. "We don't expect to find any connection."

So the stripper-service owner doesn't really know anything about the Houston market, and apparently has no way of knowing if any of the students who hired his service are even athletes, let alone athletes involved in recruiting. Am I crazy, or did he just generate a ton of free publicity for his business on the basis of essentially nothing? Apparently, Rice AD Bobby May had more to say about how flimsy this all is on a sports talk radio show this morning - this post on the Rice fan board sums it up. But will the results of the UH and Rice internal investigations be revealed on Page One? What do you think?

One last thing, on a lighter note:

According to NCAA rules, a school "may not arrange or permit excessive entertainment," though it is unclear what constitutes excessive.

"Excessive entertainment" is the funniest thing I've seen today. It'd also be a great name for a rock band.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 11, 2004 to Other sports | TrackBack

Am I crazy, or did he just generate a ton of free publicity for his business on the basis of essentially nothing?

You're not crazy, which is why I refuse to post anything about the non-allegation. One wishes local news entities would exercise similar editorial judgment.

Excessive Entertainment might be a good name for a weblog as well, or at least a subtitle. :)

Posted by: kevin whited on February 11, 2004 11:40 AM

I think the Chronicle was writing this story in light of the recent St. John's basketball team fiasco, however, perhaps they should have waited until the facts were known.

Didn't Excessive Entertainment release "Grand Theft Auto III - Vice City"? ;-)

Posted by: William Hughes on February 11, 2004 12:25 PM

"Nothing exceeds like excess."
-Oscar Wilde

Posted by: Charles E on February 11, 2004 1:40 PM

When I was a wee young lad at Rice about 18 years ago, some fellows hired a stripper to entertain us at a bachelor party in the basement of Weiss. A concerned citizen narced us out, but fortunately the campus cop had no desire to bust these relatively innocent hijinks, we got ample warning, the young lady was covered up, and he discovered nothing out of the ordinary. The party resumed and there was much ogling and drinking done by all.

I would be shocked--SHOCKED!--to find out such depravity was still happening at Rice.

Posted by: Robert Boyd on February 12, 2004 7:00 PM