After announcing earlier this month that five seniors from the 2007 men's lacrosse team had been accepted into graduate programs at Duke, the Department of Athletics confirmed Wednesday that four of those players will return to the field in 2008.
Reigning National Player of the Year Matt Danowski, goaltender Dan Loftus and defensemen Tony McDevitt and Nick O'Hara have decided to exercise their extra year of eligibility with the Blue Devils.
Thirty-three players on the 2006 Blue Devil roster were presented with the opportunity to play an additional year after the NCAA decided in May that the team was kept from the field two years ago as a result of circumstances beyond its control, in the tumult of the lacrosse case's early days.
"That was such a traumatic experience for them," head coach John Danowski said of the cancelled 2006 season. "Whatever those guys had to do, I was happy with. If a player felt it was time for him to move on, then I supported his decision. If they wanted to come back, I supported that, too."
The process has been difficult for all parties involved: This summer, doubts lingered over who would want to come back, if they would be admitted into graduate programs, how these returns would be financed and where players would live.
Danowski said that the players will be receiving some form of aid, but that scholarship information would not be publicly disclosed.
The returning players will have a significant impact on the team's on-field performance in 2008, and Danowski said he is looking forward to the experience they will bring to the team, citing the leadership and success of 2007 co-captain Ed Douglas as a fifth-year senior.
As to whether more seniors from last year's team may choose to return, Danowski said he would not rule out any possibilities.
"At this point, I've learned you can never say never," he said. "There are no finite answers in these situations.... You're allowed to change your mind. You're allowed to mull it over. You're entitled to that."
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