Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger announced officially today that Maurice Clarett will not be eligible to play this season. Based on violations made to NCAA Bylaws 10 and 12, each of which results in missing at least 50% of the season, Clarett has been declared ineligible to play for Ohio State this year.
"This has been a long and painful process," said Geiger. "We are committed to conducting our intercollegiate athletic programs in accordance with Big Ten, NCAA, and university rules and regulations. We play by the rules and we live by the rules. It is imperative that we are thorough, careful and fair. It is far more important than rushing to judgment."
Geiger referred to a meeting on June 26th.
"The followup to that interview revealed several discrepancies between Maurice's answers and what turned out to be verified facts in many instances," he said. "That initiated the second interview on July 7 as well as two more interviews in August. Throughout, we have all been consumed with an attempt to sort out fact from fiction and to get to the truth."
Geiger then detailed the violations.
"As a result of the investigation, Ohio State today submitted a self report to the NCAA outlining violations of Bylaw 12, amateurism, and Bylaw 10, ethical conduct," he said. "There are two violations of Bylaw 12, indicating that Maurice Clarett received preferential treatment or benefits based upon his athletic reputation. The value of these benefits is in the thousands of dollars."
Geiger said that this portion of the violations would result in Maurice missing at least 50% of the season, and that, combined with the Bylaw 10 violations, result in the entire season being missed.
"Before each formal interview conducted by the NCAA or the university, Maurice was presented with a copy of Bylaw 10 and was asked if he has read it and understands it," Geiger said. "Bylaw 10 is clear and direct, requiring honesty and cooperation. There are 14 violations of Bylaw 10, involving patterns of false and misleading statements. Based upon NCAA precedence, the penalties amount to at least 50 percent of the season. This judgment has been corroborated by the NCAA staff and by an independent expert very knowledgeable of NCAA enforcement issues.
"Thus, Maurice Clarett will not be eligible to practice for or compete in any football games during the 2003 regular and postseason competition. He will be allowed to keep his athletic grant and aid and attend classes in order to continue his academic progress. In order for Maurice to play in the future for Ohio State, the university will need to apply to the NCAA for reinstatement of his eligibility. We will do so, providing Maurice makes satisfactory academic progress towards his degree, does not seek or accept any impermissible benefits or violate any other NCAA rules, and makes progress on conditions involving personal growth during this academic year. Reinstatement conditions will include the requirement that Maurice make restitution for the financial benefits cited in the Bylaw 12 violations by making a donation to the charity of his choice in the amount cited in the violations."
These results are not part of other issues surrounding the team, as Geiger detailed.
"I want to emphasize that this outcome is separate and apart from the criminal proceeding announced by the city prosecutor yesterday and separate from the academic investigation that arose from the New York Times article," he said.
Geiger concluded his statement:
"This is a sad day, and we regret deeply what Maurice Clarett has lost and what the Ohio State University, our football family, our fans have lost for this year. A very talented football player will not be able to share his talent, and this community will not get to see this gifted athlete compete.
"Being a student athlete means living up to fundamental core values that are embedded in the regulations of the NCAA, the Big Ten conference and this university. Foremost among these are the requirements to be ethical and honest and to preserve amateur standing. The greater the deviation from these requirements, the more serious the penalty must be. We hope the NCAA considers the suspension for the season to be sufficient. More importantly, we hope that Maurice will remain in school to pursue his degree and that conditions will warrant our application for reinstatement to play Buckeye football next season."
Other notes from Andy Geiger:
"None of this has anything to do with his behavior on or around the Washington game."
"We have in writing, in a letter, from them, that there is no institutional involvement."
"This is not a victory. This is a sad day."
"I don't know who I blame when somebody doesn't tell the truth."
"As far as I know, he intends to go to school. I am anticipating that that is where he will head."
"We have no booster involvement."
"I don't know, standing before you, just exactly what we would have done differently, but I'm not very happy with the outcome."
(On Coach Tressel): "His disappointment in this is manifest."