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Tuesday, April 20, 2004

More on Clarett: I hope to have more in-depth on the Clarett case and its implications tomorrow, but here is a news update. Clarett has appealed his case to the Supreme Court. The case arrives on Justice Ginsburg's door and she has a number of options. One, she can choose to do nothing. In this case, the stay stands and the draft will go on without Clarett and Williams. Two, she could overrule the stay, but not until after the draft. The Clarett team obviously hopes for three, which is Ginsburg overturning the stay prior to Saturday. Even though the Clarett attorneys have argued that a decision after the weekend will result in "irreparable harm" to the running back, the chance of quick action is almost zero. Usually the Supreme Court reserves its power for quick rulings to issues such as the death penalty or national security. While football is important, it probably does not reach the same level.

What are Clarett's options? His legal team will continue to fight, and if he wins, a supplemental draft will be held for Clarett and the other players. If not, Clarett could play football in Canada or for a non-NCAA member college in order to keep his skills up. In an extreme case, he could be reinstated by the NCAA, but this seems unlikely.

In Mike Williams news, he has filed his suit and probably has the best chance of hearing anything before the draft. The Pac-10 commissioner hopes that if Williams cannot join the NFL, the NCAA will take him back due to the extraordinary circumstances of this case. I think Williams has a very compelling argument for the NCAA to make an exception. This could be an excellent opportunity to prove that the association does have the best interests of student-athletes in mind, even those that want to pursue a professional career.

The NCAA has expressed some willingness to be flexible on the issue. Wally Renfro, an NCAA Senior Adviser, stated: "There's a philosophy in place that looks for ways to grant benefit of the doubt to student-athletes different than what we have had in the past. You still have to look at the circumstances. You still have to look at how the rule was violated. What you're looking for are gray areas as opposed to application of the rule in very black-and-white terms." Another NCAA official said that the players "would have to repay their agents for whatever gifts or cash advances they may have received before they would be allowed to compete as amateurs."

More tomorrow, including how this ruling could potentially impact the NBA's proposal to impose an age limit.


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