Newspaper connects OSU QB to booster money

Updated: January 11, 2005, 10:41 AM ET news services

CLEVELAND -- Payments for a cell phone used by former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett might have led to the suspension of quarterback Troy Smith.

A report Tuesday in The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer said sources close to Ohio State and Smith told the paper that Smith used the money from Springfield booster Robert Baker to pay an overdue bill for a phone Smith's mother obtained for Clarett, a friend of her son's.

Smith; his mother, Tracy Smith; Clarett; and Baker could not be reached for comment. Clarett's mother, Michelle Clarett, said she knows nothing about the matter.

Smith missed the Alamo Bowl because of a disciplinary suspension. Ohio State didn't specify what improper benefits Smith might have received.

On Monday, outgoing OSU athletic director Andy Geiger expressed regret that Smith hadn't involved the school when Clarett's phone bill came due and repeated that Smith's suspension likely will include the 2005 opener against Miami (Ohio), according to the Plain Dealer.

Geiger cited federal student privacy laws in declining to comment on specifics of the phone scenario, the newspaper reported.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.