Monday, May 16, 2011

Vindication For Maurice Clarett?

Maurice Clarett
I think Ohio State has a lot to answer for:
Former Ohio State linebacker Thaddeus Gibson didn't understand why his purchase of a used Chrysler 300C was listed at $0 in documents disclosed in a media report, since he was still making payments on the vehicle.
Now, newly uncovered documents appear to back up Gibson -- to the tune of $13,700.
In an initial report on Ohio State's investigation of car sales to athletes and their families, The Columbus Dispatch cited documents showing a purchase price of $0 for Gibson's car.
But on Wednesday, the newspaper reported it obtained a previous title on the vehicle listing the purchase price as $13,700 for a sale dated June 27, 2007 and financed through Huntington National Bank.
The title listing the purchase price as $0 was dated March 6, 2008 and listed the same bank as the lender, according to the report.
Ohio State's compliance department is reviewing the sales of more than 50 cars to student-athletes and their families to make sure the sales meet NCAA rules.
The Dispatch reported that a car salesman who received game passes from Ohio State athletes handled many of the deals at two different dealerships. Ohio State has since taken the salesman, Aaron Kniffin, off the pass list.
Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
Clarett lived 15 minutes from campus, so he also needed a car. He says he took that request right to the head coach. “My transmission blew in my car, a Cadillac. So I’m like, ‘Coach Tressel, I can’t get back and forth to campus.’ This is probably after practice, 6 o’clock, 5 o’clock one night. He gets on the phone and says, this is where I get my car from. He called the man from McDaniel Automotive. He’s like, ‘I got a player here, Maurice Clarett. He needs a car. Do you have a car out there he can use?’
“So the man gets on the phone with me and says, ‘What kind of cars do you like?’ I say, ‘Got any trucks?’ He says, ‘Yeah, I got two trucks. I got an Expedition and I got a Tahoe here right now.’ He’s like, ‘I’ll be there tomorrow morning.’ They drove down to give me the car.”
Clarett says he kept the Tahoe for 11 days, then switched to the Expedition. NCAA Rule 16.12.2.3 states that an institutional employee or representative of the institution’s athletic interests is not allowed to provide a student athlete with the use of an automobile. According to Clarett, that is exactly what his head coach did. “This is what Jim Tressel arranged,” Clarett says.
He says as long as he was running the football well, Tressel was attentive, asking, “You cool? How’s your living situation?” He says they talked three or four times a week, always behind closed doors. “We never talked in front of anybody else,” Clarett says. “It was always, ‘Come to my office.’”
As the season wore on, he says the car swapping escalated, and the dealerships had no qualms about accommodating him. “When you’re hot in Columbus, you just go,” Clarett says. “Somebody’s going to recognize your face. You say, ‘I need to use a car.’ ‘Okay, here you go.’”
He says he’d keep the cars “for weeks, until I got tired of ‘em.” His favorite was the Lexus SC 430 sports car, but he tried to borrow anything that was new at the time. “Put it like this,” he says. “There’s a dealership on Morse Road, The Car Store. They’ve got a used car lot. You just go to the dealership, and go and go and keep on going. That’s the car dealership Coach Tressel introduced me to, that and McDaniel Automotive. Both places set me up. I wouldn’t have known these places if it wasn’t for Ohio State.”
Clarett's legal problems at the time undermined his credibility. Still, the NCAA should have done something in 2004 about these issues. For some reason, the names of the car dealerships have been "left out" of the most recent ESPN article and I'm curious as to whether or not McDaniel Automotive or The Car Store are caught up in the most recent scandal. And we're not even going to talk about the whole tattoo parlor scandal.

Clarett ought to feel vindicated right now. And, yes. That's a recent photo of Clarett, playing professional football in Omaha for the Nighthawks, which is a United Football League team. I wouldn't be surprised if the last thing Clarett ever wants to talk about is what happened to him when he was under the tutelage of Coach Tressel. 

Ohio State has a massive ethics problem, one that has been simmering for seven years, and I don't see how Coach Tressel survives.
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