posted on Nov, 9 2004 @ 06:06 PM
brought to you by the rickey williams school of thinking
Clarett accuses Ohio State of improprieties; school denies claims
By RUSTY MILLER, AP Sports Writer
November 9, 2004
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Former Ohio State star Maurice Clarett accused coach Jim Tressel, his staff and school boosters of arranging for him to get
passing grades, cars, and thousands of dollars, including for bogus summer jobs. The school immediately denied the claims Tuesday.
Most of Clarett's charges, made in an interview with ESPN The Magazine, were addressed as part of an NCAA probe that found the running back lied to
investigators, leading to his suspension from the team he helped win the 2002 national title.
Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger was not surprised by the accusations, saying Clarett had vowed to try to hurt the program.
``In moments of frustration during the investigation, (Maurice) might say something like, 'I can blow this whole program up,' or something like that,
and so we would then say, 'OK, blow it up. Tell us what you know,''' Geiger said.
After being suspended by Ohio State and the NCAA for the 2003 season, Clarett went to court to challenge the NFL's rule preventing players from
entering the draft less than three years after graduating high school. He won initial federal court ruling but lost several appeals and was kept out
of the draft.
Friends and family members say Clarett has been working out with a personal trainer in preparation for the 2005 NFL draft. He has not spoken publicly
``I have had a chance to read the article, and the allegations as they were mentioned are, simply, untrue. Period,'' Tressel said.
According to the magazine, Clarett said Tressel set him up with a loaner car.
Geiger said Tressel did try to help Clarett buy a car through the dealership that leases cars to several Ohio State coaches and administrators. But
Clarett and his mother did not meet with the dealer to make arrangements to buy the car, and the dealership came to Columbus several days later to
Geiger said Tressel's actions did not break NCAA rules, adding that the coach put other players in touch with the dealership, too.
Clarett also said members of Tressel's staff introduced him to boosters who slipped him thousands of dollars in cash -- the better he played, the more
he would receive.
``When you'd leave, (the booster) sets you straight,'' Clarett told the magazine. ``They say, 'You got any money in your pocket?' They make sure your
Clarett said Tressel's brother Dick, a member of Ohio State's coaching staff, arranged to get Clarett a job working for a landscaper. Clarett said he
was paid even though he did not show up for work. The player also alleged that the football staff arranged an academic adviser who set him up with
professors who would pass him even if he skipped class.
Former Ohio State linebacker Marco Cooper also told the magazine he had bogus landscaping jobs, received furniture from a booster and borrowed cars
from Columbus dealerships in exchange for signed OSU memorabilia.
Geiger said many of the claims were found to be baseless in investigations by the NCAA and the university. He pointed out that Cooper was kicked off
the team for drug possession.
Clarett told the magazine he took ``the fall'' for Tressel and Ohio State when meeting with the NCAA investigators but was subsequently
``blackballed'' when he tried to return to school.
Geiger expressed faith in the Ohio State coaches, compliance officers and academic counselors.
``We don't duck. We're not afraid of what's coming. We're not afraid of what's here,'' Geiger said.
Messages seeking comment were left Tuesday at Clarett's mother's house in northeast Ohio and with his attorney.
In the article, Clarett says his main reason for speaking with the magazine was to ``clear his name'' with NFL owners and general managers.
Thom McDaniels, Clarett's high school coach in Warren, said Clarett will only hurt himself by making the accusations.
``I don't know how his coming forth with these comments helps him with his stock in the NFL. I think behaving that way only hurts his reputation and
his marketability,'' McDaniels said. ``That is not honorable behavior. At this point, who knows if it's fact or fabrication.''