Clarett#039;s mother says son committed to NFL

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 20, 2004

COLUMBUS - The mother of suspended Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett said Monday that her son remains committed to trying to force his way into the NFL draft while not slamming the door on a return to his collegiate career.

''What Maurice continues to do is to look at the options that are before him,'' Michelle Clarett told The Associated Press. ''Nothing is carved in stone, on any arena. That is the intent. So, yes, we are continuing to pursue the lawsuit.''

Maurice Clarett, who helped Ohio State win the 2002 national championship as a freshman, was suspended from the team before last season because he accepted money from a family friend and lied about it to university and NCAA investigators.

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Clarett filed a federal lawsuit in New York in September challenging the NFL rule that says a player must be three years removed from his high school graduation before he can be eligible for the draft. Under that rule, the sophomore would have to wait at least one more season before entering the draft.

The league wants the case thrown out. Judge Shira Scheindlin is scheduled to rule by Feb. 1.

Clarett's attorney in the NFL case, Alan C. Milstein, said he is ''supremely'' confident that Clarett will win entry to the draft.

The Clarett family is unwavering in its support of the NFL legal challenge but wants Clarett to be able to return to college if he loses his lawsuit or is not taken in an early draft round, Milstein said.

''He is trying to keep his options open,'' he said.

Another Clarett lawyer, Percy Squire, said last week that the 20-year-old from Youngstown wants to play for Ohio State even if he becomes eligible for the draft.

Squire represented Clarett last week when he pleaded guilty to lesser charge after being accused of lying on a police report about the value of items stolen from a dealership car he borrowed. He was fined $100 on a charge of failure to aid a law enforcement officer, which will not appear on his criminal record.

Ohio State officials have set goals and incentives that need to be met for Clarett to regain eligibility.