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Prominent names on escort service client list

A prostitution ring's customers included basketball star Dwayne Schintzius and the University of Central Florida's president, who said Friday he was merely seeking massages for a bad back. "Nothing improper happened," university president Steve Altman said. "I have a lengthy history of receiving massage therapy for stress, fatigue and tightness in my back."

Altman and Schintzius, now with the NBA's San Antonio Spurs, used the now-defunct Esquire Escort Service and were interviewed as part of a criminal investigation last year.

University of Florida administrator William H. Rossi also was interviewed by investigators after his name showed up on the company's client lists.

Schintzius, former star for the Florida Gators, did not answer the phone at his San Antonio residence and couldn't be reached for comment. Rossi declined to comment.

But Altman, 45, held a news conference after his role in the investigation was disclosed Friday in stories by the Gainesville Sun and Orlando Sentinel.

"I am here with a sense of embarrassment for myself and the university, a sense of letdown for what I can only say is an error of judgment," Altman said.

Altman, who is married, said he received massages from the escort service three times in 1990, but he kept his clothes on and there was no sexual activity. He said he did not know the service was a prostitution ring until Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents interviewed him.

The service, which operated in Gainesville, Tallahassee, Lake City and Jacksonville, was closed down after a turf battle between Esquire Escorts and another Gainesville-based service erupted into a shootout June 7, 1990.

As for Schintzius, the 7-foot-2 basketball player told police he and Bobby McKibbin, an avid Gator basketball booster and Gainesville contractor, used the escort service five times after Schintzius quit the Gator basketball team in 1990.