Maurice Clarett, suspended Wednesday for the entire season at Ohio State, has four basic options:
Stay with the Buckeyes and play next season (assuming the NCAA doesn't assess additional penalties)
Transfer to another NCAA Division I school.
Transfer to a lower-division school.
Try the NFL.
Here are the scenarios for each, plus Mel Kiper's assessment of his NFL future.
What are Clarett's options to transfer to an NCAA Division I school?
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.
Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said he would not stand in the way of a transfer and would recommend that the university grant Clarett a release from his scholarship if Clarett asked for one.
What are Clarett's options to transfer to a Division I-AA or Division II school?
He would first have to serve whatever NCAA sanctions are levied against him, but then he would be eligible immediately.
What are Clarett's options to head straight to the NFL?
The NFL does not permit players to be eligible for its draft until they have been out of high school at least three years. Clarett is a sophomore and, under the rule, could not be selected until the 2005 draft at the earliest. There has been some discussion of Clarett suing to overturn the rule, though the case could take a significant amount of time. NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue has said the league will fight any underclassman who tries to overturn the rule.
If Clarett was successful in challenging the NFL rules, what is his draft status?
According to Kiper, Clarett looks like no better than a second-round pick at present, thanks to injury problems last year as a freshman, the fact he has not been timed reliably in the 40-yards dash, and the off-field problems. However, a transfer to a school like Grambling would do nothing to hurt his draft position -- assuming Clarett dominates at that level. Plenty of great NFL players -- Jerry Rice, for example -- have come out of Division I-AA schools. An outstanding performance could maybe push him into the first round.
Source: Associated Press, ESPN.com news services