NCAA, Ohio State have few disagreements in Clarett case

Updated: August 28, 2003, 8:55 PM ET

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Suspended Ohio State tailback Maurice Clarett will miss at least three games because of the investigation into his filing of an exaggerated police report.

"It's pretty clear that we're looking at a healthy number of games," Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger said Thursday. "Multiple. And you can define multiple as more than two."

Although there is no timeline for a decision on Clarett's eligibility, the NCAA's reinstatement process likely will take several days to run its course -- and that is if Ohio State is able to get a response to the association next week.

The defending national champion Buckeyes open the season Saturday against Washington. Maurice Hall, a 5-foot-10, 200-pound junior, will start for Clarett.

Geiger had originally said he hoped the school's response to the NCAA's allegations against Clarett could be ready to go this week. Now it will not reach the NCAA offices until after the holiday weekend.

"We've got too many things going on," Ohio State spokesman Steve Snapp said. "We've got the first game, with (coach Jim) Tressel involved in that. The first part of next week would be my guess."

The Buckeyes' host San Diego State next weekend and then play No. 16 North Carolina State on Sept. 14.

Asked if it was extremely unlikely for Clarett to be available for the game with North Carolina State, Geiger said, "Yes. That would be safe."

Clarett, who was suspended Aug. 22, will not be in uniform against Washington, although he has practiced with Ohio State's scout-team unit this week.

Geiger said Clarett's suspension was for multiple games although neither Geiger nor Tressel said last week that they could eliminate the possibility that Clarett might be lost for the season.

In a best-case scenario for Ohio State -- with Clarett regaining his eligibility after missing only the first two games -- it would still be difficult to get him in game condition in time for the third game of the year.

Tressel said Clarett -- who was held out of Ohio State's first 23 preseason practices -- would have to go through "acclimatization just as everyone else has."

That would mean Clarett would have to cram what his teammates did in six weeks into fewer than two.

Clarett acknowledged earlier this summer that he filed an exaggerated theft report after his car was broken into in April. The NCAA started looking into the report when Clarett stated he lost more than $10,000 in items in the theft. The car, a 2001 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, was borrowed from a local dealer.

How Ohio State handles the investigation -- and how the NCAA and the school come to terms with possible penalties -- will determine when Clarett again is in uniform for the Buckeyes.

"I can't predict an end to this," a weary Geiger said the day the suspension was announced.

He said Thursday that no response would be sent to the NCAA until everything was in order.

"If we haven't finished with parts of the investigation and with collating it all and writing it up and putting it in a package, then it won't go Tuesday," Geiger said. "It'll go when it's ready and by ready I mean as thorough and as complete as we can make it."

Once the NCAA receives Ohio State's answer, a member of the association's Student-Athlete Reinstatement staff will determine if any further investigation is needed. If so, Ohio State -- which is responsible for all fact-finding in the case -- might have to do more legwork.

If the university's probe is considered complete, the NCAA will respond with a proposed penalty for Clarett.

Any proposed penalty, which would retroactively include games Clarett missed this season, also would be based on restitution and other mitigating circumstances, such as the fact that Clarett was held out of preseason practices.

If Ohio State and NCAA disagree on the proposed penalty, Ohio State can appeal to a committee. That would then involve arguments made by both sides on a teleconference, with the committee deciding the outcome on a simple majority vote. A tie would favor the NCAA.

Unrelated to the suspension, Clarett is also being investigated by an Ohio State panel looking into allegations of academic improprieties involving Buckeyes athletes.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index