Attorney: Clarett suspended for 2003 season

Wednesday, September 10th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett, accused of lying to NCAA and school investigators, will be suspended for the entire season, his attorney said Wednesday.

Scott Schiff said Ohio State will not take away Clarett's scholarship, but he might not stay at the school.

"He's considering his options right now," Schiff said.

Schiff, Clarett, and the player's mother met Wednesday with Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger.

Clarett missed the team's first two games while the NCAA and Ohio State investigated his finances. The defending national champion Buckeyes are 2-0 without him, extending their winning streak to 16 games.

Former NFL star Jim Brown confirmed the suspension and said he had spoken to the Clarett family after the meeting with Geiger.

"It's very difficult on them," Brown said. "They're torn between so many emotions. Really, just trying to follow the process, do the right thing and weigh their options."

Ohio State has been working for more than two weeks on a response to "several pages" of allegations sent by the NCAA to the university.

"This is the final punishment imposed by Ohio State for the violations alleged by the NCAA," Schiff said.

At the end of the suspension, Ohio State would need to petition the NCAA for Clarett's reinstatement.

If Clarett transfers, the NCAA requires the new school to declare him ineligible, then seek his reinstatement through the NCAA. He would have to sit out a year in addition to any suspension or ineligibility handed down by the NCAA in order to play at another Division I-A school.

Clarett could play immediately after he is reinstated in a smaller division.

"The most important thing I think is that the inherent problem with the NCAA procedures is the lack of due process and the lack of any procedure for the student-athlete himself to appeal the NCAA findings," Schiff said.

Clarett set Ohio State freshman records last season with 1,237 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns.

His last carry for the Buckeyes ranks among the most memorable in school history. He scored on a 5-yard run in the second overtime to give Ohio State a 31-24 victory over Miami in the Fiesta Bowl and its first national championship in 34 years.

After the meeting with Geiger, Michelle Clarett was asked if her son was considering transferring to another school.

"Nothing has been decided if we go, if we stay, if we dance or not," she said. "So to ask that question and expect a black-and-white answer, you cannot have one."

Clarett could also try to go to the NFL and challenge the rule that requires players to wait three years after high school to enter the draft.

Geiger did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment. He held a news conference later Wednesday.

Schiff said that the punishment was based on the NCAA's findings of violations of NCAA bylaws on athletes' improper benefits and ethical conduct.

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said Tuesday he would recommend that the university grant Clarett a release from his scholarship if Clarett asked.

Clarett was charged Tuesday with misdemeanor falsification for lying about items stolen from his car. If convicted, Clarett would face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, but probably would get probation.

Unrelated to the suspension, Clarett also is being investigated by an Ohio State panel looking into allegations of academic improprieties involving athletes.