Clarett accused of robbing couple


Published: Monday, January 2, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 2, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
Former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett was accused of robbing two people at gunpoint in an alley behind a bar early Sunday, the latest trouble for the Buckeyes star who left the school in disgrace and failed to gain early entry into the NFL.
Clarett fled the scene and was wanted on two counts of aggravated robbery. According to police, he left in a white sport utility vehicle with two other men and took only a cell phone from his alleged victims, who weren't injured.
The 22-year-old Clarett fled when the bar owner or manager, who knew both Clarett and the victims, came into the alley and identified him shortly before 2 a.m. Sunday, detectives said.
Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said he was informed of the incident on his way to the Fiesta Bowl news conference in Scottsdale, Ariz.
"Obviously, my reaction to that is it's sad," Tressel said, "because, as I said the last few times people have brought up the subject, my hope would be that he would have an opportunity to go over to NFL Europe and make a comeback.
Clarett's agent, Steve Feldman, said Sunday evening he had not yet spoken to his client. "At this point we still don't know what's fact and what's fiction," he said.
Clarett rushed for 1,237 yards and scored 16 touchdowns as a freshman. He helped the Buckeyes win the national championship in 2002, but has found only hard times since.
Clarett sat out the 2003 season after he was charged with misdemeanor falsification for filing a police report claiming that more than $10,000 in clothing, CDs, cash and stereo equipment was stolen from a car he borrowed from a local dealership. He later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.
Ohio State suspended Clarett for misleading investigators, and for receiving special benefits worth thousands of dollars from a family friend.
In an interview with ESPN The Magazine in November 2004, Clarett said coaches and boosters arranged for him to get passing grades, cars and thousands of dollars while at Ohio State. None of the allegations were verified and Clarett never responded to NCAA requests to be interviewed about them as part of its investigation into Ohio State's athletic program.
Clarett also unsuccessfully challenged the NFL's requirement that players wait three years after high school before turning pro in a case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Clarett was chosen by the Denver Broncos in last year's draft, but the team cut him in August.
Tressel said he had spoken with Clarett "three or four times in the last six weeks."
"It's been along the lines of hoping he would have a chance to get things together and make a run at things with NFL Europe," the coach said.
Clarett would have been a senior on this year's Ohio State team, which meets Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl on Monday.
"It's real troubling," Tressel said of Clarett's fall. "Not just with youngsters that it becomes newsworthy, but with any kids who don't go the direction you know they're capable of or hope for them. It's one of the tough things when you compete. Sometimes things work out and you're successful and sometimes it doesn't. That doesn't have you back off from competing and teaching and trying to help people."
A message was left Sunday at Clarett's mother's home in Youngstown.

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