Tailback suspended for misleading investigators
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State star tailback Maurice Clarett's suspension was for misleading investigators who were looking into alleged off-the-field problems, athletic director Andy Geiger said Saturday.
The NCAA and Ohio State began an investigation in July into Clarett's claim that more than $10,000 in clothing, CDs, cash and stereo equipment was stolen in April from a 2001 Chevrolet Monte Carlo that Clarett borrowed from a local dealership.
Before Saturday night's game against Washington, Geiger said he didn't know if Ohio State would have a response to the NCAA's list of allegations against Clarett before the end of next week. He also said that the response could end up being "150 pages" long.
Clarett is practicing with the defending national champions but is not permitted to play while the NCAA and Ohio State continue probing academic and legal problems for the sophomore.
Wearing a bright red Ohio State warmup suit, Clarett watched the game Saturday from the sideline near his teammates. He came on the field during warmups wearing his No. 13 game jersey.
Clarett cheered his team and waved a towel while standing on the bench as the No. 2-ranked Buckeyes beat Washington (No. 19 ESPN/USA Today, No. 17 AP) 28-9.
Maurice Hall rushed for 58 yards on 15 carries and Lydell Ross had 43 yards on 12 attempts in Clarett's absence. The Buckeyes, who averaged 191.3 rushing yards per game last year during their national championship run, totaled 142 yards.
"Maurice was excited about Lydell and Mo Hall," Ohio State's Chris Gamble said. "He looked like he was having fun."
Geiger said that Clarett was suspended because he did not abide by the NCAA's Bylaw 10, which compels athletes and coaches to answer truthfully when confronted by university or NCAA questions.
"Bylaw 10 is about ethical conduct," Geiger said. "It deals with telling the truth to the NCAA and to the institution. The institution is a part of the investigation."
The NCAA's Bylaw 10.d reads, "Unethical conduct by a prospective or enrolled student-athlete ... may include but is not limited to the following: knowingly furnishing the NCAA or the individual's institution false or misleading information concerning the individual's involvement in or knowledge of matters relevant to a possible violation of an NCAA regulation."
Even though the NCAA -- and by extension, member institutions -- do not have subpoena power -- Geiger said Bylaw 10 is one of the underpinnings of maintaining eligibility.
"The NCAA does not use an oath. You don't put your hand on a Bible and raise your hand," he said. "You're given Bylaw 10. You're asked do you know about Bylaw 10, have you read Bylaw 10, do you understand Bylaw 10?"
Clarett's attorney, Scott Schiff, did not immediately return a request for comment left at his office. Clarett's mother, Michelle Clarett, could not be reached for comment at her Youngstown, Ohio, home.
Clarett, who had an Ohio State freshman record 1,237 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns, was held out of preseason practices while the NCAA and university looked into questions about his eligibility.
Clarett was suspended by the university on Aug. 22, although he was allowed to rejoin the team to practice. He was not in uniform for the game against Washington.
The NCAA contacted Ohio State with "several pages" of allegations and the university's athletic department is working on a response. Geiger said Saturday that the response was not close to being completed and that he didn't know when it would be sent to the NCAA. He said the response may not be ready by the end of next week.
Asked if Ohio State's investigators are having difficulty answering some of the questions prompted by the NCAA's list of allegations, Geiger said the university was uncovering new problems during the investigation that were extending the process.
The university is also looking into a teaching assistant's charges that athletes -- including Clarett -- received improper help in class. That investigation is separate from the one that led to Clarett's suspension.
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press