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OSU's Clarett mulling lawsuit

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Maurice Clarett wants information from Ohio State to help determine if he should sue the school, according to a court complaint.

The suspended star running back asked Franklin County Common Pleas Court to allow his lawyers to take sworn statements from university officials about the charge that he lied to police about items stolen from a car.

The complaint, filed late Thursday, said the university, by withholding information, had subjected him to prosecution and possibly deprived him of his property rights.

He asked for any notes related to the university police report he is accused of falsifying, as well as details of conversations in coach Jim Tressel's office about the report.

Clarett's complaint asks Ohio State to explain why the police report says the case is closed and why an officer approved the report on June 24 when the robbery was first reported on April 18.

The complaint also seeks statements by athletic director Andy Geiger concerning the police report and the identification of everyone who spoke to Clarett about it.

The complaint asks the court to order the university to answer all the questions by Sept. 30. Since the complaint is pending litigation, the university will not comment, spokesman Bill Murphy said.

Meanwhile, a university compliance officer said a businessman gave Clarett a $500 check and paid at least $1,000 of his cell phone bills.

Bobby Dellimuti gave the financial assistance to Clarett last year, Heather Lyke, who oversees NCAA compliance for Ohio State, told The Columbus Dispatch for a story Friday.

Dellimuti, a 38-year-old caterer, is a central figure in the NCAA investigation of Clarett.

Lyke and athletic director Geiger both told the newspaper they never suspected Clarett of violating eligibility rules until the NCAA contacted them by e-mail on May 5.

Clarett last week was suspended for at least a year for violating NCAA bylaws concerning benefits for athletes and for lying to investigators. He set Ohio State freshman records with 1,237 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns last season as the Buckeyes won the national championship for the first time in 34 years.

Messages seeking comment were left Friday with the university and with Percy Squire and Lloyd Pierre-Louis, the lawyers who filed the complaint.

Clarett is accused of filing an exaggerated theft report with campus police in April after the dealership's car he was borrowing was broken into. The police report said cash and stereo equipment worth thousands of dollars was taken.

He has pleaded innocent to a misdemeanor falsification charge, which has a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Clarett also has asked the NFL to change its rules and allow him to enter the 2004 draft, a year before he becomes eligible. Commissioner Paul Tagliabue says the NFL won't change its rules.