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Cleared Duke Player Finnerty Will Continue School, Lacrosse Career at Loyola, Maryland

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Collin Finnerty (AP)

Former Duke lacrosse player Collin Finnerty, cleared of false rape charges after being sidelined from the sport for more than a year, will transfer to Loyola of Maryland and play for the Greyhounds next season.

"I am excited to be returning to school and look forward to finishing my college career at Loyola," Finnerty said in a statement provided to The Associated Press by a family spokeswoman Wednesday morning.

"Now that I have made my college decision, my life is my own again. I loved Duke and will miss all my friends there, especially my teammates and coaches. They are an unbelievable group of guys who stood behind me from day one, and I wish them all the best."

Finnerty and fellow players Reade Seligmann and Dave Evans were indicted last spring on charges of rape, kidnapping and sexual offense after a woman told police she was attacked by three men at a March 2006 team party where she was hired to perform as a stripper.

But the case steadily unraveled over the next year, and the state prosecutors who eventually took over the case from the local district attorney dropped all charges. In doing so, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper declared the trio innocent victims of a "tragic rush to accuse."

The district attorney, Mike Nifong, was later disbarred for his actions in the case and resigned from office.

Seligmann and Finnerty were suspended from Duke as sophomores after the allegations emerged — Evans graduated the day before he was indicted — but they were invited back once it became clear the case against them had no merit.

Neither player took Duke up on its offer. Seligmann said in late May he would attend Brown University, an announcement that came a day after Duke lost to Johns Hopkins in the NCAA championship game for the second time in three seasons.

"I think each of them had to make their own decisions about where he wanted to pursue future education," said John Burness, Duke's senior vice president for public affairs and government relations. "We would've liked to have had them come back to Duke, but we understand they made a different choice."