Monday, August 25, 2003

Questions and answers on the Clarett suspension

By Rusty Miller
The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - Some questions and answers about the suspension of Ohio State tailback Maurice Clarett.

• Can he practice with the team?

Yes. Even though he is suspended and cannot play in at least the Buckeyes' first two games, he is permitted to practice with the team. Previously, he had been held out of 23 days of preseason practice even though he was eligible and was not suspended.

• How many games will he miss?

Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger was purposely vague on the topic of how many games Clarett would miss. During Friday's news conference, Geiger said at one point that the process of appealing Clarett's suspension might take 10 days - meaning early in the week before the Buckeyes' second game. At another point, he said he couldn't say for sure if the sophomore would play for Ohio State this season.

• Will Clarett be in uniform for the opener against Washington on Aug. 30?

Head coach Jim Tressel said he did not know because he had not had time to think about it.

• Did Tressel read the NCAA's "several pages" of allegations against Clarett?

He said he read bits and pieces. "Not really, point by point. No, I can't say that we have," he said.

• Who will start in Clarett's place?

Either junior Maurice Hall or junior Lydell Ross.

• Are further sanctions possible against Clarett and Ohio State?

Yes. A 10-person panel of Ohio State professors is looking into allegations of academic fraud and "preferential treatment" for athletes. Friday's suspension dealt only with nonacademic matters that were being investigated by the NCAA. Asked if sanctions were possible for academic improprieties, Geiger said, "That's a totally separate subject."

• What's the process for determining how long Clarett is suspended?

Ohio State officials will prepare a response to the allegations sent by the NCAA and will likely submit it on Monday or Tuesday. Athletic department officials will prepare the response. Ohio State will then apply for Clarett's reinstatement and will then work with the NCAA to arrive at a penalty. The penalty could be anything starting with the current "multiple games" suspension up to permanent ineligibility.

• What are Clarett's options if he is declared permanently ineligible?

Since the NFL requires a three-year waiting period after completion of high school, Clarett could not play in the NFL for at least two more years. He could try to overturn the NFL mandate in court to gain entry before that. The Canadian Football League permits anyone out of high school to play. Clarett's negotiating rights belong to the Montreal Alouettes, but the CFL is struggling financially and the average salary of a CFL player is $48,000 Canadian - just over $34,000 US.

• Have the investigations sullied the university's name?

"I think short-term there's a problem, sure," Geiger said. "I was quoted in USA Today a while ago - in fact it was the headline - that I think we'll be under a cloud for a while, certainly because of the academic allegations even though I think there's absolutely nothing there. I think we have to live with that notoriety. I don't think we did anything to deserve it. I don't think there's anything to it. And I'm hoping that they tear the place apart trying to find it."

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