Originally created 01/15/04

Clarett pleads guilty to reduced charge



COLUMBUS, Ohio - Suspended Ohio State tailback Maurice Clarett, accused of lying on a police report, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a lesser charge that carries no jail time.

The charge of failure to aid a law enforcement officer does not appear on a criminal record, and Franklin County Municipal Court Judge Mark S. Froehlich ordered Clarett to pay the maximum fine of $100.

Clarett, who helped Ohio State win the national championship in 2002, was accused of filing a campus police report that exaggerated the value of items stolen from a dealership car he borrowed in April. Had he been convicted of the original falsification charge, he could have faced a penalty ranging from probation to six months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.

Froehlich told Clarett he hoped the experience would make him a better person.

"You are in fact a role model," he said. "Many people in this community look up to you. Don't let them down, but most importantly don't let yourself down. Try to give back to a community that has given so much to you."

Clarett's comments were limited to yes and no answers to the judge's questions. Clarett's mother held her hand on his back as he stood before the judge, and Clarett and his lawyers left the courtroom without commenting.

"I will definitely consider the judge's advice to me whenever I make decisions that not only affect me, but also the kids who look up to me, family friends and teammates," Clarett said in a statement.

"I look forward to shifting all of my attention back to my studies and the team at the Ohio State University."

Ohio State suspended Clarett from the football team, but not from school, for accepting improper benefits from a family friend and for lying about it to investigators.

GEORGIA SOUTHERN: In Statesboro, Rusty Russell, son of the coach who built Georgia Southern into a national Division I-AA power in the 1980s, was one of two assistant coaches fired Wednesday.

Coach Mike Sewak also announced the firing of Levorn Harbin, who served as defensive ends coach and special teams coach since 2002.

Russell has served as defensive coordinator for the Eagles since 1997, having joined the staff a year earlier as linebackers coach.

"There are times when it is necessary to make difficult decisions, and this is certainly one of those occasions for me," Sewak said. "Coach Russell and I have come to an agreement that it is time for him to explore other opportunities beyond Georgia Southern football. He and I have been a part of the same program for the past seven seasons, and that makes this change especially hard."

Russell is the son of Erk Russell, who reinstated football at Georgia Southern in 1981 and coached for eight seasons beginning in 1982. His teams won three national championships, going 15-0 in his final season in 1989. His record was 83-22-1.

GSU missed the national playoffs after going 7-4 last season, ending a streak of six consecutive seasons reaching the playoffs.

IOWA STATE: In Des Moines, Iowa, two days after being fired at Nebraska, Barney Cotton landed a job at Iowa State.

Iowa State coach Dan McCarney said Wednesday he has hired Cotton as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach and was bringing in Todd Fitch as quarterbacks coach.

Fitch was fired as the quarterbacks coach at South Carolina in November.

Cotton, who had been offensive coordinator at Nebraska, was one of seven assistants fired Monday by the Cornhuskers' new head coach, Bill Callahan.

ARIZONA: In Tucson, Ariz., former New York Jets receivers coach Mike Canales was hired Wednesday by Arizona to become the school's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Mike Stoops, hired Nov. 29 to revive a program that bottomed out last year under John Mackovic, also added Mike Tuiasosopo as defensive line coach. The assistants - Stoops' seventh and eighth - leave him with one more opening.

"Mike Canales' offensive background is outstanding and will give us the kind of emphasis we want spreading the field, and Mike Tuiasosopo has coached some championship-level players," Stoops said.