AUSTIN -- Texas Attorney General Jim Mattox said yesterday he will investigate whether Republican Gov. Bill Clements and other former Southern Methodist University officials used school money to cover up a scheme to pay football players.

Mattox said he reluctantly entered the case at the request of Texas legislators who said they believe Clements may have committed an impeachable offense in the scheme. Clements has denied any wrongdoing and said at a news conference that the investigation is politically motivated and that efforts to impeach him are nonsense. There was "no cover-up" of the scandal, Clements said.

Mattox said the investigation will center on the SMU Board of Governors, which Clements headed until he resigned in January. Two Texas House members said they will file impeachment or recall resolutions against Clements this week.

A report last week by a special United Methodist bishops' committee said Clements knew in 1983 of payments to players and was solely responsible for a 1985 decision to continue the scheme while the school was already on probation with the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

The NCAA suspended the school's 1987 football season and limited its 1988 season so severely that the school canceled it. The bishops' report also said SMU officials engaged in a cover-up to protect Clements.