OSU teacher will talk only with NCAA

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 15, 2003

COLUMBUS - The former teaching assistant who charged that star Ohio State tailback Maurice Clarett received preferential treatment in the classroom said Thursday she won't talk to a university committee investigating her allegations.

''They'll use information that's not true,'' Norma C. McGill said. ''I don't trust OSU with my information. I'll trust an NCAA investigator.''

McGill has alleged that Clarett walked out of a midterm in African-American and African studies, where she was a teaching assistant, in the fall of 2002. She said he was later given an oral exam, which she said was unusual. Clarett passed the course.

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McGill said Clarett was the only student among 90 to receive an oral exam in that class. But associate professor Paulette Pierce said Clarett did not receive preferential treatment in her class. She said she has given oral exams in other classes to students who are not athletes.

Ohio State created a committee to review McGill's allegations after they were reported last month in the New York Times. The committee is sharing information with the NCAA, which is conducting a separate investigation into Clarett's finances.

McGill said that OSU committee member Matthew Platz, a professor in Ohio State's chemistry department, has sent numerous e-mails asking her to speak to the committee. She has declined.

''I'm not going to contact the people from that panel,'' she said. ''They should just stay away from me. I don't want them to have any quotes from me that they could paraphrase or take out of context or use against me.''

Ohio State spokeswoman Elizabeth Conlisk was asked if the committee had been trying to reach McGill.

''The committee is looking into everything. So, I would imagine that at some point they would'' talk to McGill, Conlisk said. Platz declined comment.

The committee is also investigating allegations that academic tutors sometimes did homework for players and athletes cheated on quizzes.

Kenneth Goings, chairman of the African-American and African Studies Department, dismissed McGill's claims last month ''because of her erratic behavior and because of her history of psychiatric problems.''

McGill said she underwent an emotional crisis in April 2003 and was hospitalized for six weeks after a meeting with Goings. She left Ohio State before the end of the fall 2002 quarter and is now living in Lexington, Ky.

The NCAA is investigating a police report filed by Clarett that claimed stereo equipment, cash, clothing and CDs valued at more than $10,000 were stolen from a car he had on loan from a local dealership. Clarett later admitted he had exaggerated the value of what was stolen.

NCAA officials attempted to reach McGill Thursday. Mark Jones, director of enforcement, said association bylaws prevented him from commenting on any case under investigation.

The Buckeyes have banned Clarett from practice and other team activities ''until and unless'' eligibility questions are resolved.

The 6-foot, 230-pound tailback rushed for a freshman school record 1,237 yards and scored 18 touchdowns last season as undefeated Ohio State won its first national title in 34 years.