Geiger, Tressel Discuss Clarett Suspension

Athletic director says he will soon recommend the number of games Maurice Clarett should sit out to the NCAA.

After receiving a letter with allegations against standout tailback Maurice Clarett from the NCAA, OSU athletic director Andy Geiger said he believes Clarett will have to serve a multiple-game suspension.

But the AD told reporters in a news conference early this evening at Ohio Stadium that the exact length of the suspension has not been determined. Geiger said the school will conclude its own investigation into Clarett's financial dealings, then will make a recommendation to the NCAA on the length of the suspension.

However, Geiger and OSU head coach Jim Tressel did say that Clarett, held out of the first 2-1/2 weeks of preseason camp, would be cleared to resume practicing with the team as soon as Sunday.

"He asked me if he could practice tomorrow," Tressel said. "I told him, `You'll be the only one out there because we're taking tomorrow off.' "

That was probably the one bit of levity in what was an otherwise serious press conference on the floor of Ohio Stadium immediately after the team wrapped up Friday's rehearsal scrimmage. A horde of local media as well as a crew from ESPN covered the event, which was carried live on television in Columbus.

Geiger refused to share specific points of the NCAA's allegations letter. It is believed that Clarett's use of an automobile last spring is at the heart of the probe. His use of the car, on loan from a Columbus area used car dealer, became an issue after he filed a police report stemming from an April break-in to the vehicle while it was parked at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

Geiger did discuss the process that led to today's announcement and where things could be headed. He met with Clarett, his mother and attorneys and OSU legal counsel this morning at St. John Arena.

"They (the NCAA) gather what they consider to be the allegations," he said. "They mail them to us. We received that. Then, we begin to gather our response to that.

"We declare the student-athlete ineligible and then we apply for reinstatement. We work with the NCAA on the recommended penalty. Then they respond on what the recommended penalty is and whether it is adequate.

"They respond back to us and if we're not happy with their decision we can appeal it to a committee of our peers."

Reporters grilled Geiger for close to 20 minutes on the Clarett matter. He was asked why the word multiple was used to describe the suspension.

"The word multiple reflects what I think the outcome will be," he said. "Now we must arrive at a number.

"I've read the precedents (at other schools). I've read the (Clarett) case. I know what I'm dealing with."

Geiger made it clear that this suspension is only related to Clarett's financial dealings and his amateur status. The university is still in the process of conducting its own separate investigation into allegations of academic fraud.

Those allegations, which came to light in a New York Times article in July, also involve Clarett.

Geiger said he expects to take a "few days" before responding to the NCAA.

"There are still some things we need to run down in our investigation," he said. "We still have some work to do."

Geiger asserted that there are no institutional penalties involved with this matter, as it stands, and OSU's standing as a 2002 Big Ten co-champion and national champion is not in jeopardy.

Geiger said he consulted with Tressel on the decision to allow Clarett to rejoin the team.

"In consultation with the coach, we decided that it was the time to bring him into the program," Geiger said. "We have had some movement on the subject. It is probably best for Maurice to come in. He expressed a desire to me today to get back into the (football) community. We thought it would be best to get him started."

When asked if he expects Clarett to play football again for Ohio State, Geiger said, "Yes, I do."

But a moment later when asked if it would be this year, he said, "I don't know that."

Tressel said Clarett is anxious to get back into the fold.

"It was exciting today to see his face and see him smile a bit," Tressel said of Clarett, who attended the scrimmage but did not speak to reporters.

Tressel admitted he has seen "bits and pieces" of the allegations against Clarett, but did not share any details. The coach also admitted he considers the charges to be serious.

"Absolutely," he said. "We wouldn't be involved in this if it wasn't serious. I'm sure mistakes have been made and now the responsibility is losing some privileges. The most important thing is what we do from this point on."

While there have been reports that Clarett may pursue the Canadian Football League or possibly sue the NFL for early entry if he's unhappy with the length of the suspension, Tressel is convinced the tailback is committed to returning to the Buckeyes.

"He gave me every indication he wants to be back with this team," Tressel said.

Earlier in the week, Tressel had ruled Clarett out of next Saturday's opener with Washington. He did not name a new starting tailback, although junior Maurice Hall opened the rehearsal scrimmage with the first unit.

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