Tressel Responds To Clarett's Allegations

OSU head football coach Jim Tressel convened the media after practice to deny any wrongdoing in connection with charges made by former tailback Maurice Clarett in stories reported by ESPN.com. Click here for more.

Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel met with the media briefly after Wednesday's practice to address allegations made against him by former OSU star Maurice Clarett in articles published on ESPN.com.

Clarett accused Tressel of helping set up various car deals for him. He also said the coach sold him out after Clarett felt he did the right thing by covering up the coach's involvement in his affairs during last year's NCAA investigation.

During his luncheon earlier Tuesday, Tressel refused to answer questions about the Clarett matter. He then issued a statement on the charges. But after practice, media members had a chance to ask him about the situation.

Tressel was asked if he had anything to say to Clarett. But the coach did not go there.

"I feel like we've got to get to work on Purdue," he said. "We don't have a lot of time around here to daydream. We've already spent too long on it. The way I feel is it's time to go to work."

Tressel did say he had a chance to read some of the articles on the ESPN.com web site.

"Since we got together at noon, I have had a chance to read the article," he said. "The allegations as they are mentioned are simply untrue, period."

Tressel was asked what the charges did to him personally.

"It doesn't affect how I look at him," Tressel said. "Obviously, any time one of your guys doesn't go about things the way they should be, you're disappointed."

Tressel was asked about his reputation taking a hit.

"I haven't spent too much time worrying about my reputation," Tressel said. "I'm worrying about working with our kids and doing what's right. Reputation is what the word means ... reputation."

The coach was asked if it was a common practice to refer athletes to car dealerships, as Clarett alleged in the articles.

"We have about 78 different car dealerships that help out the Ohio State athletic program," Tressel said. "We make it clear to them that if any student-athlete in any sport comes to see them that they make sure they are treated like any other customer."

Players Speak Out

Several of the team's seniors and captains came out for Tuesday's interview sessions. Each of them backed their coach.

"I just think people have to look at his reputation and the type of program he runs," defensive end Simon Fraser said of Tressel. "You have to look at the things he's brought to the program with higher class and academics and a lot of positive things."

Cornerback Dustin Fox addressed the notion that Clarett believes Tressel sold him out.

"It's a little disheartening because of the experience I've had personally with Coach Tressel, knowing him on a personal level and the way he treats his players," Fox said.

Fox said he never saw any kind of special favors, as Clarett has alleged.

"I have no idea what his situation was like when he was here," Fox said. "I've never experienced anything like that where I've been to someone's house or they're giving me money.

"He was kind of a loner," Fox added of Clarett. "It wasn't that we didn't get along with him. It's just a lot of guys didn't talk to him."

Kicker Mike Nugent also discussed the Clarett situation.

"I have friends who play on other teams," Nugent said. "They'll tell me the things they've heard that had gone on in the past with their team. They say, `I'm sure a lot of that goes on at Ohio State.' I say, `Absolutely not.' I never heard, even when Maurice was here, of anything going on."

As the Buckeyes prepare to visit Purdue Saturday, Nugent does not believe this latest controversy will impact the current team.

"The team does such a good job of focusing on what we have to do," Nugent said. "The coaches tell us that things are going to happen. We have to focus on the task at hand and everything will be all right."


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