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Buckeyes tailback apologizes, will sit out practice

Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State tailback Maurice Clarett admitted exaggerating the value of items he reported stolen from a car he was driving and will be kept from preseason practice while the NCAA investigates.

In a statement released from the school Wednesday, athletic director Andy Geiger and coach Jim Tressel said Clarett wouldn't participate in camp until "all issues related to his eligibility regarding his amateur status have been resolved."

The NCAA is investigating a police report filed by Clarett claiming cash and thousands of dollars of stereo equipment owned by him were stolen from the car.

The release from the school included an apology from Clarett and a statement from Clarett's attorney, Scott Schiff, who said the car was borrowed and that many of the items belonged to the vehicle's owner.

"Maurice did exaggerate and inflate the values he placed upon the reported items," Schiff said.

Schiff said Clarett used the car to attend a workout on April 17, when the vehicle was broken into. Maurice filed a theft report with campus police.

According to the police report, two built-in television monitors and stereo equipment worth $5,000, $800 in cash, $300 in clothing and 300 compact discs were stolen. The property wasn't found, and police have closed the case.

"I genuinely and sincerely apologize to my teammates and to The Ohio State University for any embarrassment this incident may have caused," Clarett said in the statement.

The license plate on the car is registered to The Car Store Inc., a small dealership on the city's north side, according to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. It was not clear who owned the vehicle then. Messages were left by telephone and at the dealership for owner Jacob Chapa.

Despite numerous injuries last season, Clarett set school freshman records with 1,237 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns. The Buckeyes, the defending national champions, open the season Aug. 30 at home against Washington.

Clarett has been under investigation by the NCAA in recent weeks, and the April police report was the subject of meetings NCAA officials had with Clarett earlier this month, Geiger said.

The stolen property is just part of the investigation, Geiger added.

The NCAA won't comment on pending investigations.

However, NCAA infractions committee chairman Thomas Yeager said athletes are ineligible whenever they receive a benefit unavailable to other students.

"If it's something like a student athlete driving a booster's car or coaches' or agents' cars, generally the rule is you're not driving other people's cars," he said. "If any student at the university could walk into a dealership and get a free weekend test drive then that kind of thing would be permissible."

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