Originally created 04/24/04

Athletic director says Clarett unlikely to return to Ohio State



COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Maurice Clarett shouldn't count on returning to Ohio State now that the courts have blocked him from entering the NFL draft this weekend.

"I cannot envision a scenario where he would be able to play football next fall for Ohio State," athletic director Andy Geiger said Friday.

Clarett's attempt to circumvent the league's eligibility rule was turned down Thursday by two U.S. Supreme Court justices, making the running back ineligible for the draft that begins Saturday.

Clarett, 20, is challenging the NFL's requirement that players wait three years after high school before turning pro. Under the current rules, Clarett would not be eligible until 2005.

The issue is pending before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, which has put on hold a lower-court ruling in Clarett's favor that said the NFL can't enforce its three-year rule.

Clarett's lawyer, Alan Milstein, declined to comment Friday on what his next legal move might be. A message seeking comment was left for Clarett's mother, Michelle.

It also was unclear what the next step might be for Southern California wide receiver Mike Williams, who entered the draft after the original decision that made Clarett eligible.

Williams' agent, Mike Azzarelli, said Thursday: "The NFL may have been successful in keeping them out of Saturday's draft, but there's always the possibility of the supplemental draft."

The league has said it would hold a supplemental draft if Clarett prevails in his lawsuit.

He also could play for the Montreal Alouettes, who own Clarett's rights in the Canadian Football League. Alouettes general manager Jim Popp said Friday he has not spoken to Clarett, his family or his lawyers, but the team remains interested.

Popp, however, said Clarett might not make an impact this season if he doesn't make up his mind soon. Montreal's training camp starts May 19 and the season starts in June.

If Clarett decides to wait on the outcome of his lawsuit or word from the NFL on a supplemental draft, "he won't be able to go to training camp," Popp said. "His best chance would be to join a practice roster and he's way behind the eight-ball in terms of learning the system."

Clarett rushed for 1,237 yards and scored 16 touchdowns as a freshman in 2002, leading the Buckeyes to the national championship. He was suspended before the 2003 season for accepting money from a family friend and lying about it to NCAA and Ohio State investigators.

He also pleaded guilty in January to a misdemeanor after exaggerating the value of items stolen from a car he borrowed from a Columbus used-car dealer. He was fined $100.

Geiger said the school would have to apply to the NCAA to reinstate Clarett, who currently is not taking classes at Ohio State.

As for Clarett being declared eligible to play college football again, Geiger said there could be issues stemming from the off-field problems.

"I think academic progress is an issue and clearly (there are) issues of amateurism and issues of unfinished business as to why there was a suspension in the first place," Geiger said.