In college, students have a chance to meet very interesting people. One such person is Maurice Clarett, a one-time student at the Ohio State University. Clarett is distinct for many reasons, and one such is his fear of flying:
"How do they know where they're going up in the clouds? There ain't
no stop signs, no stop lights, nothing like that. It's kind of
crazy, man, seriously."
Maurice Clarett, on October 3, 2002.
We all, to some degree, have fears of flying. And as a friend of mine said when I told him of this quote there's no logical basis for our phobias, so we shouldn't be too hard on poor Maurice. On the other hand, it is pretty funny to imagine stop signs and crosswalks at 30,000 feet.
Some other things about Maurice aren't so funny, however. In the fall of 2002, he walked out of a mid-term exam without telling his professor ahead of time. Luckily for him, he wasn't kicked out of school. More amazingly, he was allowed to re-take the exam at the end of the semester orally, and he passed.
Would it surprise you that Maurice Clarett is a football player?
A football player who is currently on suspension from school for lying to police investigators about a falsified claim he filed?
Yes, Maurice Clarett is an interesting person. But he has no interest in academia. What was he doing at a selective school of higher education?
Besides being interesting, Maurice Clarett is also quite large. He is approximately six feet tall and weighs more than 200 pounds extraordinarly huge for a college student, and bigger than normal for an NCAA running back.
Clarett can also run quickly almost as fast as the speediest defensive players and his speed-size-strength combination makes him a very good football player. In 2002 he set records for freshmen running backs and helped Ohio State win a national title. He even survived an airplane trip to Tempe, Arizona, for the final game of the season (a win over the University of Miami at Florida).
But his undergraduate career had already began to crumble. That winter he took the oral "makeup" exam, which was not available to any other student in the class. The New York Times would break this story later that year.
Then, in the spring, he claimed to the police that $10,000 of personal items were stolen from a Chevrolet Monte Carlo that he was "test driving" from a local dealership. This accusation had many errors to it:
- The car was not being test-driven but was a gift to him from the dealership. This is a violation of the NCAA's amateur rules.
- There was far less than $10,000 of items in the car.
- The items in the car weren't properly owned by him. Instead, they too were gifts.
Obviously, Clarett had no serious desire to be a student or an amateur. He went to Ohio State simply to play football in hopes of someday earning a job in the NFL.
Of course, he shouldn't have lied. On the other hand, he only did it to protect his (false) amateur status. Indeed, why should he need to endure a period of indentureship as a college student? Degrees are not compulsory for the entire population and certainly not for the National Football League. He's being forced to do something he doesn't want to, so of course he'll want to break the rules. It would be as if I had to eat a pound of haggis for every hour I surfed on E2.
At the time of this writeup, Clarett is on suspension from Ohio State and spending his time taking a non-credit class in American Lawsuits. Specifically, Clarett is suing the NFL in hopes of forcing his way into the NFL Draft in April of 2004.
According to the NFL's age-limitation rules, players are ineligible for the draft unless they have been out of high school for three years, which for Clarett would be 2005. The league's stated reason for the rule is that younger players aren't physically developed enough for the NFL. This logic is complete rubbish; first, Clarett is plenty big enough, and second, most rookies don't play much at first anyway. The real reason for the rule is that the NFL has a free feeder system in the NCAA and does not want to kill the golden goose.
This being America, I won't try to guess what will happen in the courtroom. I will say that the appeal process could take so long that Clarett might be eligible before the final ruling is handed down. Either way, it is very likely that Maurice Clarett has stepped onto the Ohio State campus for the last time. If I were a student there, I would not notice his absence.
Clarett flying quote: http://www.newsnet5.com/sports/1700740/detail.html
Suspension story: http://www.channelcincinnati.com/sports/2469756/detail.html