A look at the Clarett saga
In an interview with ESPN The Magazine's Gene Wojciechowski, Clarett says: "... I'm not saying it's something I will do, I'm not saying it's something I won't do ... I know it's a whole lot of things that are important about college right now. I know there's a whole lot of things a lot more important than that [the NFL] right now, but if the opportunity comes and you have a chance to take care of your family, and your family would be set for the rest of their lives, and don't have to go through things you went through, of course I'm going to take the chance. If [Ohio State Head] Coach [Jim] Tressel, if [Athletic Director] Andy Geiger or Archie Griffin, [Running Backs] Coach [Tim] Spencer, [Offensive Coordinator] Coach [Jim] Bollman. . . any of them, if they all had the chance they'd do the same thing."
Clarett is upset when he says Ohio State "gave him the runaround" when he asked to attend the funeral of a friend. Clarett was in Arizona preparing for the national title game in the Fiesta Bowl. "I guess football's more important than a person's life to them," he said. "That's why I'm ready to get this game over and go back home."
Clarett runs for 47 yards on 23 carries in the Fiesta Bowl vs. Miami, but scores two touchdowns, including the game-winner in the second overtime.
The New York Times reports in its Sunday edition that Clarett received assistance to pass a class before the Fiesta Bowl, according to a university professor. Clarett passed African-American and African Studies 101 by taking two oral exams, Paulette Pierce, an associate professor, told The Times. She said she worked directly with Clarett and administered the exams after he walked out of the course's midterm exam during the fall semester.
Also, Geiger told the Columbus Dispatch that Clarett's had two meetings with NCAA officials that had nothing to do with academics. The paper said the NCAA instead is focusing on Clarett's finances, and possibly might include his dealings with LeBron James, the NBA's No. 1 draft pick and Clarett's friend, on its checklist.
When asked if Clarett was in jeopardy of being ineligible for all or part of the coming season, Geiger told the newspaper: "Not that I know of. That doesn't mean it won't change. As of now, he's fine."
The NCAA has investigated a police report that states that more than $10,000 in stereo equipment and cash were stolen from a car he was driving in April. The university says it's "not unusual."
Clarett is held out of preseason football practice until questions regarding his eligibility are settled. "Clarett will not participate in preseason football camp until, and unless, all issues related to his eligibility regarding his amateur status have been resolved," the school says. It also released an apology from Clarett in connection with the theft of a stereo equipment and a statement from Clarett's attorney, Scott Schiff, saying that the car was a borrowed vehicle and that Clarett exaggerated the value of some items reported stolen from it.
Clarett told ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit that he does not intend to challenge the NFL's eligibility rules or play in the CFL. Clarett told Herbstreit that he simply wants a quick resolution to the NCAA investigation so that he can rejoin his Buckeye teammates.
Clarett family friend and confidant Jim Brown says that, depending on the severity of possible NCAA or university sanctions, Clarett will then decide whether to return to the football program, challenge the NFL's early entry rule, or play professionally in Canada.
"If you sanction a kid, give him a couple of games out -- he's already gone through hell -- that's reasonable," said Brown. "I can take two games. If you tell me I have to sit out three-quarters of the season, I have to look at other plans."
Clarett is suspended from the team for "multiple games" for his role in the exaggerated theft report. Reports say it may be as many as six games.
Clarett is involved in all team functions despite his suspension. "He attended orientation meetings this afternoon. He also met with trainers and compliance people,'' a university spokesman said. "This evening he will be involved in team meetings and film sessions following the team meal. He will take his physical Monday morning.''
Sources tell ESPN The Magazine's Wojciechowski that Clarett has been informed that he likely will not play this season for Ohio State. The same sources told ESPN that school officials informed Clarett's family that he would keep his scholarship. His status for 2004 is uncertain as well.
Clarett and his mother are considering suing the NFL for a chance to enter the league a year early, according to the family's attorney. Also, Brown says that the likelihood of Clarett going back to Ohio State is not good nor is the possibility of transferring to another school. Brown also expressed frustration with Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger.
"I think Mr. Geiger wants to start a revolution. He's acting like a slave-master," Brown said. "If Andy Geiger wants to act like God, then this ball game is over."
Clarett is charged with misdemeanor falsification in the car theft incident, according to city attorney spokesman Scott Varner said. If convicted, Clarett would face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
In addition, Tressel said Ohio State is ready to cut ties with Clarett.
Clarett is suspended for the season for violating NCAA rules. Clarett was punished because the school determined he accepted thousands of dollars in improper benefits and then lied to NCAA and school investigators. "This is a sad day," Geiger said.
Clarett asks the NFL to change its rules and make him eligible for the 2004 NFL draft. NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said the NFL remains opposed to changing that rule, which was put into effect in 1990 with the agreement of the NFL Players' Association. "I think it would be better if he stayed in school," the commissioner said.
Clarett asks court to help get information from Ohio State to help determine if he should sue the school. Complaint asks that his lawyers take sworn statements from university officials about the charge that he lied to police about items stolen from a car. The complaint says that by withholding information, Ohio State had subjected him to prosecution and possibly deprived him of his property rights. He asked for any notes related to the university police report he is accused of falsifying, as well as details of conversations in coach Jim Tressel's office about the report.
Attorney Alan C. Milstein and Clarett's mother, Michelle, meet for about an hour with NFL executives to discuss whether he will be able to enter the 2004 draft., said league spokesman Greg Aiello. "It was an exchange of views and it was a good discussion," Aiello said. "We told them we would get back to them."
Clarett sues the NFL, asking a judge to throw out a rule that prevents him from entering the draft until he has been out of high school for three years. The lawsuit contends the NFL rule violates antitrust law and harms competition. "Had Clarett been eligible for the 2003 Draft, it is almost certain he would have been selected in the beginning of the First Round and would have agreed to a contract and signing bonus worth millions of dollars," according to the lawsuit filed in federal court in New York. Says the NFL: "We do not believe that this lawsuit serves the best interests of Maurice Clarett or college football players generally, but we look forward to explaining to the court both the very sound reasons underlying our eligibility rule and the legal impediments to the claim that was filed.
Clarett starts his fall quarter at Ohio State. He remains on scholarship.
Lawyers for Clarett file a federal suit accusing Ohio State of violating Clarett's privacy rights by giving police information from an NCAA investigation. It seeks at least $2.5 million in damages from the university and asks for a court order preventing prosecutors from using the information as evidence in a misdemeanor case accusing him of filing a false police report.
Also, Clarett's mother reports receiving a racially charged death threat addressed to her son. It was signed off with "OSU cheerleaders" and said that
"black men should stay away from white women." It included other racial remarks and ended with a message that the writer will "kill
and bomb the place."
Clarett drops his federal complaint seeking a $2.5 million fine against Ohio State for releasing information from an NCAA investigation to prosecutors.
In the court motion, Clarett reserved the right to renew the complaint if he could get backing from the U.S. Department of Education, which oversees the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act he accuses the school of violating.
"We intend to bring it again," his attorney, Percy Squire,
Clarett is flunking two classes, including a physical education course, according to two letters obtained by the Columbus Dispatch. A letter from Geiger said an African American studies professor had forbidden Clarett from returning to her class after he missed at least five sessions and slept during others. In another letter, a university attorney warned Clarett that he was flunking a physical education course after he failed to turn in assignments.
Attorneys for Clarett file a court papers saying that the NFL has been misleading the public, as well as Clarett, about the actual language of the league bylaw that prohibits early entry to many college players. In February 1990, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue issued a press release saying players could only enter the draft after "three full college seasons" had elapsed since their high school graduation. Over the past decade, the notion that players must wait three years has become widely accepted. However, Clarett's attorneys say the formal language of the Section 12.1(E) of the bylaws is as follows: "For college football players seeking special eligibility, at least three NFL seasons must have elapsed since the player was graduated from high school." Clarett graduated high school early, on Dec. 11, 2001 -- eight weeks before the 2001 NFL season concluded, including the playoffs. So if one includes the league's 2001, 2002 and 2003 seasons, Clarett should be permitted to enter the upcoming draft, his attorneys contend.
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