Judge wants Feb. 1 ruling in Clarett case

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 1, 2003

COLUMBUS - Lawyers for Maurice Clarett and the NFL met in New York on Tuesday, with the judge saying he hoped to rule by Feb. 1 on the suspended Ohio State tailback's lawsuit against the league.

Clarett is challenging the NFL's rule that a player must be out of high school three years to be eligible for the draft.

Clarett's attorney, Alan C. Milstein, said Tuesday the two sides set a timeline for legal briefs to be filed during a conference with the judge in open court.

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The attorneys for Clarett will file their briefs by Oct. 27, with the NFL answering by Nov. 21. Clarett's lawyers will then reply to the NFL by Dec. 10, Milstein said.

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin said she would do her best to rule on the case by Feb. 1, Milstein said.

The NFL did not immediately return a phone call requesting comment.

Clarett was suspended by Ohio State for the season for accepting money from a family friend and for lying about it to NCAA and university investigators.

Clarett, who rushed for 1,237 yards and led Ohio State to a national championship as a freshman last season, is not eligible for the draft until 2005 under current NFL rules.

The suit claims the NFL's three-year rule violates antitrust law and harms competition by excluding players. The suit asks Scheindlin to throw out the rule and declare Clarett eligible for the 2004 draft - or require the NFL to hold a special supplemental draft sooner.

Milstein said he doubted if the NFL would provide a supplemental draft to Clarett.

''For whatever reason, they're taking this to the end of the road,'' Milstein said.