- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 9, 2003

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Maurice Clarett was charged yesterday with lying about items stolen from his car, and Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said the school is ready to cut ties with the star running back.

Clarett was charged with misdemeanor falsification, city attorney spokesman Scott Varner said. If convicted, Clarett would face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. But probation is likely the harshest sentence a judge would impose, city prosecutor Stephen McIntosh said.

Tressel said he does not expect Clarett to return this season to the defending national champion Buckeyes. He would recommend that Clarett be released from his scholarship if the request was made by Clarett, the coach said.

Clarett already has been suspended indefinitely from the team, and probably will not play for the Buckeyes this season. He also is being investigated by the NCAA.

Tressel was asked if it was time for Clarett to move on.

“I think that he needs to make, along with his family, whatever decision he thinks is best for him,” Tressel said.

Meanwhile, Grambling coach Doug Williams carried a No.13 jersey into his news conference, not hiding his interest in having Clarett transfer to the Division I-AA school.

“That’s what he would wear,” Williams joked. “Isn’t that what most of the questions will be about?”

The news conference was dominated by questions about Clarett, but Williams said no one at the school had spoken to the suspended running back from Ohio State.

“We could use him,” Williams said.

If Clarett’s career at Ohio State is over, the running back’s last carry would rank among the most memorable in school history. He scored on a 5-yard run in the second overtime in a 31-24 victory over Miami in the Fiesta Bowl, giving the Buckeyes their first national championship in 34 years.

Alan C. Milstein, the Clarett family attorney, said he wasn’t surprised by Tressel’s comments or the misdemeanor charge.

“Nothing Ohio State does surprises me,” he said. “I don’t think the family recognizes what Ohio State’s actions and motivations are, either.”

Milstein declined to comment on whether Clarett would consider transferring.

If Clarett transferred to another Division I-A school, he would have to sit out a year in addition to any suspension or ineligibility handed down by the NCAA. He could transfer to a Division I-AA, II or III and be immediately eligible to play, but any possible penalties would also pertain.

NCAA spokeswoman Kay Hawes would not speak about the Clarett case, but did say that if a suspended or ineligible player transferred, the athlete’s new school would first have to declare him ineligible, and would then seek his reinstatement through the organization.

Ohio State has been working for more than two weeks on a response to “several pages” of allegations sent by the NCAA to the university.

Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger wouldn’t comment on the progress of the response, and said he didn’t know when it would be finished.

Hawes said the NCAA had not received Ohio State’s formal response.

Ohio State and the NCAA have been looking into Clarett’s finances since springtime. Clarett acknowledged earlier this summer that he filed an exaggerated theft report after his car was broken into in April. The car, a Chevrolet Monte Carlo, was borrowed from a local dealer.

Clarett said he lost more than $10,000 in items in the theft, including $800 in cash, $300 in clothing, hundreds of CDs and thousands of dollars in stereo equipment.

Clarett has until Oct.10 to enter a plea and won’t have to appear in court to plead innocent, McIntosh said. If he pleads guilty or no contest, he can be sentenced the same day.

The university does not have a set punishment for athletes charged with misdemeanors, Geiger said. The charge will not factor into the length of a suspension the university will recommend to the NCAA, he said.

Unrelated to the suspension, Clarett is also being investigated by an Ohio State panel looking into allegations of academic improprieties involving athletes.

Clarett set Ohio State freshman records last season with 1,237 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns.

Clarett’s mother, Michelle, did not return a phone message seeking comment on the charge. Former NFL star tailback Jim Brown, a family adviser, said he wasn’t aware of the charge and declined comment on it or Tressel’s statement.

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