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Report: OSU will suspend Clarett six games

COLUMBUS -- It's official. Maurice Clarett is again an Ohio State Buckeye.

Clarett was part of the Ohio State football team once again Sunday but the Buckeyes still don't know when their star running back will be eligible to play in a game.

Clarett was suspended for ''multiple games'' on Friday for his role in an exaggerated theft report but was allowed to return to practice. Clarett had been held out of the team's first 23 preseason practices because of eligibility questions.

Clarett was involved in all team functions Sunday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, athletic department spokesman Steve Snapp said.

''He attended orientation meetings this afternoon. He also met with trainers and compliance people,'' Snapp said. ''This evening he will be involved in team meetings and film sessions following the team meal. He will take his physical Monday morning.''

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel and athletic director Andy Geiger both declined to be specific when asked how long a ''multiple-game suspension'' was.

There have been reports that the suspension will last six games.

Tressel said the NCAA allegations were serious.

''We wouldn't be involved in this if it weren't serious. There's no doubt about it,'' Tressel said Friday. ''I'm sure mistakes have been made. We have the responsibilities of losing some privileges. But what's most important about anything is what you do from this point on and I'm excited to get going from that standpoint.''

Tressel said it will take awhile for Clarett to find his place with the team.

''He's got to go through his acclimatization just as everyone else has,'' he said ''We'll define a role.''

Clarett, who rushed for an Ohio State freshman record 1,237 yards last year, helped lead the Buckeyes to the national championship. He scored the winning touchdown in Ohio State's 31-24 double-overtime victory over defending champion Miami in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3.

The university received several pages of allegations from the NCAA against Clarett on Thursday and discussed them with the sophomore and his lawyers on Friday during a nearly three-hour long meeting at Ohio State's St. John Arena.

Geiger anticipated that he would send a response to the NCAA allegations on Monday or Tuesday.

''The way the process works is that we will now send our response back to the NCAA. They will respond back to us,'' Geiger said Friday. ''If we're not happy with the response we have the option to appeal to a committee of peers.''

The NCAA and Ohio State had been investigating Clarett's acknowledged overstatement of the value of items stolen in April from a vehicle he borrowed from a local car dealership.

In a police report, he said he lost items totaling more than $10,000 when thieves broke into the 2001 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

The suspension was only for non-academic allegations. A 10-person university panel probing charges of academic fraud involving Clarett is a completely separate investigation from that which led to his suspension on Friday.

Geiger said the decision to allow Clarett to return was prompted by developments in the NCAA's investigation.

''We think it's time to bring him into the program. We have movement on the subject and we think it's probably best for Maurice to come in,'' Geiger said. ''He's really expressed his desire to get back into the community and begin again. It was my feeling that it probably would be best to get it started again.''

Geiger said the latest developments probably signal that an end to the NCAA's investigation of the non-academic allegations against Clarett is nearing.

''Yeah, we're towards the penalty phase. There's still some things that need to be tightened up,'' he said. ''We're still not finished with parts of the investigation but we're in some movement.''

The second-ranked Buckeyes open the season Aug. 30 against No. 17 Washington.

Telephone messages were left seeking comment Sunday at the Youngstown home of Clarett's mother and the office of his Columbus attorney, Scott Schiff.