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University defends its actions

10/14/2003 - Ohio State Buckeyes

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Maurice Clarett's attorney said the
misdemeanor criminal case against the suspended Ohio State running back prompted him to ask a federal judge to block the use of
information from the university.

Now the 19-year-old player is fending off misdemeanor charge in
a local court while he has three separate civil actions pending in
two states.

Clarett asked a U.S. District judge Friday to find Ohio State in
contempt, filing a complaint accusing the university of releasing
his "protected educational records" in violation of a 2000 court
order.

That request doesn't interfere with an earlier case in Franklin
County Common Pleas Court, Clarett's Columbus attorney, Percy
Squire, said Saturday.

But a university attorney called the federal action
"procedurally irregular" and "misguided," because the school
hasn't had time to respond to last month's county complaint seeking
information to help determine if Clarett should sue.

The federal complaint seeks a fine against Ohio State of at
least $2.5 million -- payable to Clarett -- and a court order
preventing city prosecutors from using the private information as
evidence against Clarett, who's charged with filing a false police
report.

"One of the products of releasing this information
inappropriately is that information is going to be used in a
criminal prosecution against him," Squire said. "If that
information goes in, he's irreparably harmed.

"Whether that merits a fine of $2.5 million remains to be seen.
It may be worth greater than that, given what this young man's
potential is."

The complaint seeks to add Clarett as an injured party in a 1998
privacy lawsuit by the U.S. Department of Education against Ohio
State, Miami of Ohio and other schools.

"The Ohio State University has vigorously protected the
educational records of this student-athlete and his Sept. 18
discovery lawsuit has generated no information that would lead Mr.
Clarett to believe that Ohio State violated his privacy,"
university attorney Virginia Trethewey said in a statement released
Saturday.

Clarett is accused of filing an exaggerated theft report with
campus police in April after a dealership's car he was borrowing
was broken into. Clarett has pleaded innocent to one count of
falsification, a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of six months
in jail and a $1,000 fine. Squire said Clarett didn't prepare the
police report.

Clarett is suspended for his sophomore season for accepting
money from a family friend and lying about it to investigators. He
is separately suing the NFL, asking a federal judge in New York to
throw out a rule that prevents him from entering the draft until he
has been out of high school for three years.

Squire said none of the legal matters means Clarett doesn't want
to play for Ohio State again.

"There's nothing that would make us happier than to see him out
there playing," Squire said. "We can't permit him just to be
abused and violated simply because he fundamentally wants to go out
and play football."