Lawyers expected to discuss case

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Suspended Ohio State running back
Maurice Clarett has asked the NFL to change its rules and make him
eligible for the 2004 NFL draft.

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said Sunday that the league received
a request last week from Clarett's lawyer, Alan C. Milstein.

Talgliabue told The Associated Press that a lawyer from his
office would meet with a lawyer for Clarett to discuss the case,
probably the week after next.

Last week, Clarett was suspended by Ohio State for at least one
season for violating NCAA bylaws concerning benefits for athletes
and for lying to investigators. Also, Ohio State is investigating
charges that athletes received improper help in classes.

Clarett, who rushed for 1,237 yards and 18 touchdowns last
season as Ohio State won the national championship, is in his
second year at the school. Under NFL rules, he would not be
eligible for the draft until his third year out of high school,
which would be 2005.

Tagliabue said the NFL remains opposed to changing that rule,
which was put into effect in 1990 with the agreement of the NFL
Players' Association.

"I think it would be better if he stayed in school," the
commissioner said.

Asked if he thought, as a lawyer, that the NFL could win a
lawsuit if Clarett were to file one, Tagliabue replied: "My
feeling as commissioner is that we have a very strong case and that
we'll win it."

CBS Sports reported Sunday that Gene Upshaw, the executive
director of the Players' Union, said that Milstein had threatened a
suit. Calls to Milstein and Upshaw by The Associated Press were not
immediately returned.