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NCAA finds nine violations; one with football

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A lack of evidence apparently deflated
former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett's allegations that
coaches and boosters arranged for him to get passing grades, cars
and thousands of dollars.

The NCAA on Monday outlined nine violations against Ohio State,
but only one involved the school's football program -- quarterback
Troy Smith's acceptance of $500 from former OSU booster Robert Q.
Baker in May 2004.

None of Clarett's most explosive allegations -- that coach Jim
Tressel orchestrated a system in which players received free cars,
improper academic assistance and cash for no-work jobs -- were
verified.

It was originally reported that the the NCAA wasn't saying whether it interviewed Clarett after he made his allegations in an interview with ESPN The Magazine in November.

However, the NCAA issued a statement Wednesday that said it tried to interview Clarett after his allegations, but that Clarett did not make himself available.

"As a clarification to recent comments made in the media, the NCAA enforcement staff attempted on numerous occasions to interview Maurice Clarett during its investigation of Ohio State University.

"Not once did Mr. Clarett respond to our repeated requests to meet with investigators or provide information. "Specifically, over the course of a month in November and December 2004, phone calls were placed to Mr. Clarett's reported cell phone numbers, relatives, former legal representatives and friends. But the messages left were never returned. In addition, attempts to contact him in person failed.

NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson said Tuesday that once
investigators begin probing an athletic department, they thoroughly
examine all allegations.

"In the end, they follow where the evidence leads them," he
said.

Clarett, who was drafted by the NFL's Denver Broncos on April
23, could not be reached for comment. He didn't speak to reporters
at Broncos camp Tuesday.

Clarett's agent, Steve Feldman, said Tuesday that Clarett wants
to move on and that the Ohio State situation is "over with."

Feldman said he does not know if NCAA investigators contacted
Clarett after the ESPN The Magazine. He also defended Clarett.

"Just because their report doesn't substantiate the claims
doesn't mean that he wasn't telling the truth," Feldman said.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said Monday that he
considers the Clarett matter over. He declined to elaborate when
contacted for an interview Tuesday.

NCAA investigators concluded that the most serious charges of
wrongdoing at Ohio State involved the men's basketball program,
which is facing seven suspected NCAA violations.

The NCAA alleges that both former head basketball coach Jim
O'Brien and former assistant Paul Biancardi failed "to monitor the
conduct and administration" of the basketball program from July
1998 to May 2002.

Another NCAA finding involves an orthodontist allegedly
providing free and discounted services to five women's basketball
players.

Ohio State has until July to respond. A hearing in front of the
NCAA infractions committee is scheduled for October.

Last June, Ohio State fired O'Brien for arranging a $6,700
payment to the family of a recruit. In December, the school
self-imposed a one-year postseason tournament ban on the men's
basketball program.

Christianson declined to speculate on any possible sanctions
that might come out of the October hearing with the NCAA
infractions committee.

Gene Smith and Ohio State President Karen Holbrook said this
week it's possible that the men's basketball program, now headed by
coach Thad Matta, will face NCAA sanctions.

Rather than penalize the current coaches and players, Smith said
the university might strip the program of its 1999 Final Four
appearance, two Big Ten co-championships and four NCAA Tournament
appearances from 1999 to 2002, when the alleged violations
occurred.

The NCAA takes self-imposed punishments into account when
considering sanctions.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.