|Friday, August 22
Suspension generates market hesitance
By Darren Rovell
As freshman running back Maurice Clarett piled on the yardage last season, devoted Buckeye fans gradually phased out their Andy Katzenmoyer and Archie Griffin jerseys and purchased a fresh No. 13 shirt to wear to Ohio Stadium on Saturday afternoons.
Thanks to a freshman school record 1,237 yards, 18 touchdowns, an undefeated season and a national championship, Clarett had many supporters, including retail outlets that sold the many different versions of his jersey.
"He has been our best seller since last fall," said Bruce Harlan, general manager of four The Buckeye Corner stores in the Columbus, Ohio area. "Since he was only a freshman, he had a chance to sell more jerseys than any other Buckeyes star."
But speculation that Clarett would be suspended – as he was on Friday for multiple games – made people more hesitant to buy his jersey, Harlan said.
Since former Ohio State teaching assistant Norma C. McGill alleged in a New York Times article published on July 13 that Clarett received preferential treatment by passing two classes thanks to oral exams, sales have declined 20 to 25 percent at Harlan's stores.
"Our whole month of June, his jersey continued to sell well," Harlan said. "But since that Sunday, it's definitely gone down significantly."
Word that NCAA officials were also investigating the 19-year old running back's claim that thousands of dollars worth of items were sold from car he borrowed from a nearby dealership couldn't have made the jerseys easier to sell.
At The Buckeye Corner, Clarett jerseys sell for $50, while official jerseys cost $150. The jerseys – which also come in youth sizes – are available in silver, white and red.
Buckeye fans who don't want to purchase Clarett jerseys have plenty of other options. Other jerseys on the racks include wide receiver/cornerback Chris Gamble's No. 7, wide receiver Michael Jenkins' No. 12 and quarterback Craig Krenzel's No. 16.
Buckeye retailers also carry Griffin, Chris Spielman and ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit retro jerseys.
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org