Coach claims jersey was not contact
GRAMBLING, La. -- The NCAA's inquiry into possible indirect contact with Maurice Clarett was apparently sparked by a jersey, Grambling State coach Doug Williams said.
The NCAA specifically mentioned a news conference -- part of which later aired nationally on ESPN -- where Williams entered carrying a Grambling jersey with the suspended Ohio State runner's number on it.
"What is 'indirectly contacting' someone?" Williams said. "If I had talked to [Clarett family adviser] Jim Brown and said: 'We want him.' That's contacting him. But holding up a jersey? Something is wrong with this picture."
Prospective schools must get permission from an athlete's current athletics director before they can talk to transfers. Brown had said publicly that he favored a transfer down to Division I-AA Grambling for Clarett.
"I came in a little lightheartedly," Williams said. "I knew a lot questions were going to be coming about the Clarett situation."
The infraction has been referred to Chris Strobel, who is the NCAA's director of enforcement for secondary infractions. There is a significantly lower threshold of penalty for those violations. Postseason penalties, for instance, are reserved for major infractions.
"We won't have any comments about the specific situation," said Kay Hawes, the NCAA's associate director of media relations. "It's NCAA policy not to comment on current and ongoing investigations."
Williams said holding up the jersey should not have been an issue.
"It shouldn't have even been an issue with Grambling," Williams said. "That jersey did not have 'Clarett' on it. If I had put his name on the back of the jersey, that would have been a different thing. I would have agreed with them wholeheartedly."
The stiffest sentence handed down for these lower-level infractions would involve Williams. He could be restricted from recruiting trips for one year or perhaps suspended for one or more games.
The school could also face fines up to $5,000 or lose financial aid scholarships. Most of the other possible penalties do not apply because Clarett never suited up for Grambling.
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press