Collin Finnerty rejected an offer to return to the Duke...

Collin Finnerty rejected an offer to return to the Duke lacrosse team and instead transferred to Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore, where he became co-captain of the team. Credit: Loyola Athletics / Undated

Months after being exonerated in a highly publicized rape case, former Duke University lacrosse player Collin Finnerty will finally play again - this time for Loyola College in Maryland.

"It will be good for him to be a kid again," said Finnerty's father, Kevin, of Garden City.

Finnerty, 21, said in a statement that the decision to attend Loyola marks a milestone for him.

"I am excited to be returning to school and look forward to finishing my college career at Loyola," Finnerty said yesterday.

"Now that I have made my college decision, my life is my own again," he said. "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 was one of three players falsely accused of raping a stripper at a house party in March 2006. Michael Nifong, the Durham County district attorney who pursued the charges, lost his job and his law license for his overzealous and unethical prosecution of the case.

After the charges were dropped, Duke invited Finnerty and codefendant Reade Seligmann, 21, of Essex Fells, N.J., to return to school and continue to play for the team. Seligmann has said he will attend Brown University in the fall.

Kevin Finnerty said his son ultimately decided going back to Duke would be too difficult.

"Duke holds a lot of very good memories, but he wanted to be totally committed to wherever he went, and he felt he had to look over his shoulder in Durham every time he went back there," he said.

In the past year, Finnerty has worked in a sports marketing company and on Wall Street. He also took courses at Hofstra University and worked as a volunteer assistant lacrosse coach at his alma mater, Chaminade High School in Mineola, his father said.

Because of the Hofstra coursework, it's unclear what year Finnerty will be in at Loyola.

Finnerty will join a Division I team that went 7-6 this year, losing to SUNY Albany in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

"There's a comfort level between Collin and his teammates and the coaching staff," said Loyola Coach Charley Toomey. "We think it's going to be a great fit."

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