Wait, it’s been how long? Twenty-eight
seconds since … oh, dear lord. I better act fast.
Maurice Clarett. Maurice Clarett. Maurice Cla-freakin-rett.
There. I’ve done my part. I had almost let Ohio State’s No. 13
go unmentioned in this world for more 30 seconds. Heaven forbid I
let that happen, as you won’t find a more diverse story out there
other than Clarett. I mean, who else can allegedly break three
different rules under three different governing bodies in such a
The possibilities of academic cheating, accepting improper gifts
and insurance fraud have Ohio State, the NCAA and federal
authorities in an uproar over the only person resembling an
offensive player from last year’s national championship team.
And it all could have been avoided on Clarett’s first day in
Columbus. Here’s how it should have gone:
“Okay Maurice, in front of you is the NCAA’s intention of
enrollment policy. If you check the top box you will be accepting
the terms of the NCAA, you will be a full-time student of THE Ohio
State University and you will be subject to all reviews and
penalties of the team, school and NCAA.
“If you check the bottom box, your only responsibility will be
to the athletic team of your choice – in this case, THE Ohio State
University football team – and its rules, and you will not be under
the subject of the NCAA’s policies of accepting gifts.
“But you will not be able to partake in any of THE Ohio State
University’s classes or academic programs, and you will not leave
THE Ohio State University with any sort of degree. You will be
subject to the NCAA’s rules on substance abuse, but that is it.
“And do not worry about your living situation, as THE Ohio State
University will treat you as it treats all of its athletes who are
(Pause, and a smile from Clarett.)
“Oh, you chose the second box, meaning we are your stepping
stone to the NFL. I’m sure you are aware of the risk, as there is
no going back. And if you get injured … well, we’ll cover your
medical bills, as long as you have eligibility here at THE Ohio
“Well, though I am disappointed you don’t want to take classes
here at THE Ohio State University, there is a room of boosters next
door who want to shake your hand as many times as possible.”
Well, the technical aspects aren’t written out – I’m not
claiming to be a lawyer – but the point is clear: Either you’re
here for an education and to play a sport, or you’re here to
prepare yourself for a career in athletics.
Professors wouldn’t have to waste time with athletes who just
don’t care, and those same athletes could just worry about
perfecting their body for a professional career.
Former Michigan runner Alan Webb could have stayed here at the
University, used Michigan’s facilities free of charge, trained with
his own coach outside of Michigan practices and not have had to
worry about accepting endorsements from any company.
Ed Martin – though his laundering was illegal no matter how it’s
looked at – would have been a non-factor for any basketball player
that checked box ‘B’ in order to have a sweet ride to drive into
the NBA. Who knows? If all had been given the chance, maybe the Fab
Five would have been a booster-driven four-year journey instead of
a two-year embarrassment.
Boosters, in general, would become a team’s greatest asset in
producing four-year seniors and keeping unpolished, but raw talent,
from entering the NBA draft.
As a purist, even mentioning something like this makes me sick.
Although I am sure nothing about my proposal would change the
tutelage of those like Michigan women’s swimming and diving coach
Jim Richardson. His swimmers are either as good in the classroom as
they are in the pool (and they’re damn good), or they won’t swim
But even I can realize when a change has to be made.
The NFL should not have to adjust its age of entry for Clarett
or anyone fresh out of their prom tuxedo – if only for the safety
of the 18- or 19-year-old.
Even Michigan freshman LaMarr Woodley – ungodly built in terms
of college freshmen – is not ready for the pros and the mature and
vicious players he would have to face.
Neither is Clarett and his banged up shoulder – no matter how
well he can wave a celebratory towel.
The NCAA needs to adjust its policy so that players like Clarett
can take the risk they want to take in forgoing a degree and
education altogether so that they can study for the pros and test
their body to the limit.
It’s pointless stubbornness by the NCAA to make those who don’t
want to take an English class try to improve they’re – oops, their