COLUMBUS (AP) — Former Ohio State star Maurice Clarett
accused coach Jim Tressel, his staff and school boosters of
arranging for him to get passing grades, cars and thousands of
dollars, including for bogus summer jobs. The school immediately
denied the claims yesterday.

Most of Clarett’s charges, made in an interview with ESPN
The Magazine, were addressed as part of an NCAA probe that found
the running back lied to investigators, leading to his suspension
from the team he helped win the 2002 national title.

Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger was not surprised by
the accusations, saying Clarett had vowed to try to hurt the
program.

“In moments of frustration during the investigation,
(Maurice) might say something like, ‘I can blow this whole
program up,’ or something like that, and so we would then
say, ‘OK, blow it up. Tell us what you know,’“
Geiger said.

After being suspended by Ohio State and the NCAA for the 2003
season, Clarett went to court to challenge the NFL’s rule
preventing players from entering the draft less than three years
after graduating high school. He won an initial federal court
ruling but lost several appeals and was kept out of the draft.

Friends and family members say Clarett has been working out with
a personal trainer in preparation for the 2005 NFL draft. He has
not spoken publicly in months.

“I have had a chance to read the article, and the
allegations as they were mentioned are, simply, untrue.
Period,” Tressel said.

According to the magazine, Clarett said Tressel set him up with
a loaner car.

Geiger said Tressel did try to help Clarett buy a car through
the dealership that leases cars to several Ohio State coaches and
administrators. But Clarett and his mother did not meet with the
dealer to make arrangements to buy the car, and the dealership came
to Columbus several days later to repossess it.

Geiger said Tressel’s actions did not break NCAA rules,
adding that the coach put other players in touch with the
dealership, too.

Clarett also said members of Tressel’s staff introduced
him to boosters who slipped him thousands of dollars in cash
— the better he played, the more he would receive.

“When you’d leave, (the booster) sets you
straight,” Clarett told the magazine. “They say,
‘You got any money in your pocket?’ They make sure your
money’s straight.”

Clarett said Tressel’s brother Dick, a member of Ohio
State’s coaching staff, arranged to get Clarett a job working
for a landscaper. Clarett said he was paid even though he did not
show up for work. The player also alleged that the football staff
arranged an academic adviser who set him up with professors who
would pass him even if he skipped class.

Former Ohio State linebacker Marco Cooper also told the magazine
he had bogus landscaping jobs, received furniture from a booster
and borrowed cars from Columbus dealerships in exchange for signed
OSU memorabilia.

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