Professional strippers have been a part of CSU recruitment parties for 20 years, said Steve Lower, president of Hardbodies Entertainment Inc.
“We do parties all over the state,” Lower said. “It’s no different than going to a strip club, we just come to you. The girls put the guys in a chair in front of everyone, they’ll strip and dance for them and then dance for the other guys at the party.”
Hardbodies’ strip parties in Fort Collins typically cost $330, but Lower said that most payments are made in cash, so he does not have records of recent recruitment parties at CSU.
“It’s mostly just the girls telling me about it, they’ll come back from a party and say it was a recruiting party,” Lower said. “Half the time the players will lie about it on the phone and say that it is a birthday party.”
Lower said players contact the company for services and universities have no knowledge of the recruitment parties.
“Never in 20 years have I received a call from a coach, an assistant coach or a player rep, nothing, period,” Lower said. “These are usually friends of the players that know the recruits are coming into town and they set something up.”
CSU’s football coaches held a meeting Tuesday afternoon to discuss the recent accusations, but the coaches did not comment publicly.
Gary Ozzello, senior associate athletic director, said the university was completely unaware of the accusations, but any truth to the allegations would be against university ethics.
“If this is true, it is unacceptable in our program,” Ozzello said. “Behavior like this is not acceptable, it is not how we recruit and it is not what we stand for.”
Lower believes that there is no legal problem in providing services to recruit parties and that his strippers are not responsible to check for minors.
“The girls are not going to ID the people at the party and it is not their responsibility. It is a private home party and so it is easy for people to lie about their age,” Lower said.
Still, as many recruits may be under 18, there are legal risks when minors are involved, said Rita Davis, spokesperson for Fort Collins Police Services.
It is not illegal for strippers to strip or dance for minors, but there are possible legal repercussions if a minor touches a stripper, as it may be regarded as soliciting prostitution, or if people charge money to get into the party, as it may be seen as managing a strip club, Davis said.
Lower can understand university officials’ concern, but he maintained that the services provided by Hardbodies are not illegal.
“It’s a moral issue and has to do with the player-conduct ethics code,” Lower said. “To us it’s just another party, it is more an issue for the team and the university than it is for us.”
Ozzello said the university will investigate the use of strippers at recruiting parties.
“We are continually evaluating policies and procedures and this story heightens awareness as we are continually evaluating what we do and how we do it,” Ozzello said. “We’re not ignorant enough to say that we won’t look into it.”
While his company performs at parties for any occasion, Lowers said Hardbodies has been a part of college athletics recruitment since the company’s establishment 20 years ago.
“A lot of other sports have been involved, this is so widespread,” Lower said. “It’s tradition, that’s the best way of putting it. It’s just like ordering a bachelor party for your buddy when he gets married, it’s just tradition, nothing illegal happens.
“Schools have nothing to do with it, it is just players having a good time.”