Texas coaches group decides to keep Clemens as speaker

HOUSTON -- Roger Clemens remains welcome to speak at a
convention of Texas high school baseball coaches who earlier
reconsidered their invitation upon allegations of steroid use in
the Mitchell report.

The Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association said Monday
that despite allegations against Clemens in the 409-page report,
the group found no reason to not let the seven-time Cy Young Award
winner speak at its annual meeting next month.

"He still wants to come," said Jim Long, president of the
association. "He said he intends on speaking."

The group's decision was first reported by Houston television
station KRIV.

Clemens' agent, Randy Hendricks, did not immediately return a
telephone call Monday from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Clemens is among the biggest names to appear in the Mitchell
Report, a study by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell on
the illegal use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs
in baseball. Clemens was accused in the report of having used
steroids by a strength and conditioning coach.

In a video posted Dec. 23 on the Web site of his foundation and
on You Tube, Clemens denied using steroids.

He is set to answer questions about the steroids accusations in
an interview on the television news magazine "60 Minutes" that is
scheduled to air on Sunday.

Long said the group left its options open depending on what
Clemens says in the interview.

"If something else comes up, there may be a possibility he
wouldn't come," Long said. "But unless there is some concrete
evidence he is guilty or if the media circus would keep him from
coming ... it would be unfair of us not to let him come."

Clemens had been scheduled for the last eight months to talk
about pitching and what he did on a daily basis that kept him in
shape during his long career to members of the country's largest
high school baseball coaches association. The convention is Jan.

"We're delighted at what they've done, [giving] him the benefit
of the doubt we asked the public and everybody else to do," his
attorney, Rusty Hardin, told KRIV. He said he expected Clemens to
be pleased with the association's decision.

In the Mitchell report, former Toronto and New York Yankees
strength coach Brian McNamee said he injected Clemens with steroids
in 1998 while with the Blue Jays, and in 2000 and 2001 while with
the Yankees. McNamee also claimed he injected Clemens with Human
Growth Hormone in 2000.

Andy Pettitte, Clemens' teammate with both the Yankees and
Astros, was also cited in the Mitchell report. He has admitted to
using human growth hormone on two occasions to recover from an
elbow injury in 2002.