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Ohio State AD still not definitive

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."

Both a Columbus Dispatch report and Clarett's dad said over this past weekend that Clarett would miss six games.

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.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.