Buckeye suspected of academic fraud

Posted: Monday, July 14, 2003

COLUMBUS, Ohio Ohio State president Karen Holbrook said Sunday the athletic department will investigate a report that star Maurice Clarett received assistance to pass a class before the Fiesta Bowl.

The New York Times reported for Sunday's editions that the running back passed African-American and African Studies 101 by taking two oral exams.

Paulette Pierce, an associate professor, told the newspaper she worked directly with Clarett and administered the exams after he walked out of the course's midterm exam during the fall semester.

It wasn't clear whether Clarett, a freshman on the Buckeyes' national championship team, received special consideration, or whether university or NCAA rules were broken. Pierce said she has taken similar steps with students who are not athletes.

Calls to the home of Clarett's mother in Warren went unanswered Sunday. He did not respond to the newspaper's requests for an interview.

Athletic director Andy Geiger said at a news conference that he was not aware of any NCAA violations, and Clarett was not given preferential treatment.

''There are no special considerations for student-athletes,'' Geiger said.

Holbrook said Geiger and incoming interim provost Barbara Snyder will lead the investigation, which will examine athletes' athletic performance, tutors who work with the program and the relationship between athletes and faculty members.

No time frame was set for the investigation.

Clarett finished high school a semester early and enrolled at Ohio State in January 2002.

Despite numerous injuries, he set Ohio State freshman records with 1,237 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns last season as the Buckeyes beat Miami 31-24 in double-overtime for the national title.

Ohio State has had problems with academics in the past.

In 2000, a year before coach Jim Tressel took over for John Cooper, wide receiver Reggie Germany was declared ineligible for the Outback Bowl after recording a 0.0 GPA for the fall quarter.

In the most recent data from the NCAA, covering the class that started during the 1995-96 school year, Ohio State was 10th in the Big Ten with a 60 percent graduation rate among athletes. Only Minnesota was worse, with a 54 percent graduation rate. The Buckeyes' football team had a 28 percent graduation rate.



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