Clarett claims OSU lied



The Buckeyes running back said he filled out the proper paperwork to return home.
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- Maurice Clarett accused Ohio State officials Tuesday of lying when they said he hadn't filed paperwork to qualify for NCAA emergency funds to fly home for the funeral of a slain friend.
The freshman tailback blasted school officials on Monday for giving him "the runaround" when he tried to get an airline ticket home to Youngstown.
Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger said the university probably would have approved the request but that Clarett had not filled out the proper forms.
Clarett said he completed all of the paperwork before he left Ohio on Thursday for practice for the national championship.
"They can't lie about that," Clarett said Tuesday, circled by dozens of reporters at Fiesta Bowl media day. "I won't sit here and let them lie about that."
The No. 2 Buckeyes meet No. 1 Miami in the Fiesta Bowl on Friday night for the championship.
Different story
Heather Lyke Catalano, Ohio State's associate athletic director in charge of NCAA compliance, said Geiger told her not to answer reporters' questions. She said Geiger and sports information director Steve Snapp would speak for the university.
"I talked to Heather last night and she said he has not filled out the proper paperwork," Snapp said Tuesday.
In a statement released Tuesday night, Geiger said Clarett had not submitted a Free Application For Federal Student Aid Form to Ohio State as of Monday.
"Maurice may have begun the process but at the time we had to make the decision, there was no indication of a FAFFSA on file for Maurice," Geiger said. "We were therefore compelled to follow the NCAA rules as they apply to the situation."
Clarett also said university officials put football ahead of life. Geiger disagreed.
"We care deeply about all of our student-athletes, and we did everything possible to assist Maurice Clarett in this time of his personal grief," Geiger said. "Unfortunately given the circumstances, we had no choice other than to react in the manner in which we did."
Clarett said he learned of the death of his good friend Juaquin A. "Juan" Bell, 23, more than a week ago. Youngstown police said Bell was shot several times Dec. 21. They said drugs, money and bullet casings were found at the scene.
He said he had asked Coach Jim Tressel about going home, and Tressel referred the matter to the university's compliance department, which approves any financial aid or benefits given to student-athletes.
Clarett said his mother filled out the paperwork last week and he submitted it to university officials.
His mother, Michelle, declined to comment to The Associated Press, adding, "I just don't want to feed it."
Clarett said he was most upset that Lyke Catalano had not contacted him after he filed his paperwork.
"The compliance lady said she'd get back to me in my room. She never called back in my room or on my cell phone. That's the real reason I was mad -- because she didn't call me back."
No distraction
Tressel wouldn't comment on Clarett's latest charges although he didn't think they would be a distraction for Friday's game.
"We're going to work hard at the task at hand while empathizing with the situation at hand," Tressel said. "I'm not going to go tell him here's how you should grieve. I just want to make sure he knows that when he needs me, I'm there for him."
On Monday, Geiger said other athletes have flown home using school funds and that OSU offered to reimburse Clarett once the proper forms were filled out.
"He elected not to do that, or couldn't afford that, or there wasn't anybody in his family who could do it. We were stuck in a place where the rule is we couldn't go forward and buy a ticket. That was upsetting to him," Geiger said. "But there isn't any effort on our part to bar him from going anyplace."

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