COLUMBUS, Ohio -- 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.
"He's ineligible because he declined to tell the truth 17 times during an investigation," Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger told The Magazine. "If you want to give him credibility when he's been unable to tell the truth under any circumstance since I've been around him, I'm not going to respond."
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.
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 in months.
"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 repossess it.
Geiger said Tressel's actions did not break NCAA rules, adding
that the coach put other players in touch with the dealership, too.
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
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.
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