Ohio State Men's Basketball Program Placed On Probation
University Ordered To Remove Banners, Return Revenue
POSTED: 10:01 am EST March 10, 2006
UPDATED: 5:09 pm EST March 10, 2006
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State was spared a postseason ban for rules violations involving its men's basketball program but was placed on three years' probation, ordered to return postseason tournament revenue and remove banners inside Value City Arena, the NCAA announced Friday.
The university will also vacate games and records played from 1998-2002, including the 1999 season, when the Buckeyes made it to the NCAA Final Four.
The committee also found that the scope and nature of the violations constituted a failure of the institution and former head coach Jim O'Brien to monitor the men's basketball program.
The NCAA's Committee on Infractions also imposed a five-year show cause penalty against O'Brien, was who fired from Ohio State in 2004. If O'Brien seeks a job with another NCAA school, he and the school will be ordered to appear before the committee to determine whether his duties should be limited.
The announcement was made during a teleconference in Indianapolis, just a few blocks from where the Buckeyes were scheduled to play Penn State in the Big Ten Conference quarterfinals.
The university faced nine allegations, seven of them involving O'Brien and cash payments to players and recruits.
According to the list of allegations, O'Brien agreed to provide recruit Aleksandar Radojevic $6,700 to assist the recruit's family in former Yugoslavia.
"The $6,000 payment was a blatant violation," said committee vice chair Josephine Potuto, faculty athletics representative and a professor of law at the University of Nebraska. "The circumstances surrounding this violation are especially troubling because the former coaches concealed the cash payment from administrators at the institution for over five years."
The NCAA discovered a representative of the school's athletic interests had improper in-person contacts and provided recruiting inducements to Radojevic and former Ohio State player Boban Savovic. The person was believed to be Dan Roslovic, who allegedly paid for nanny Kathleen Salyers to house Savovic.
Ohio State reported Salyers had improper in-person contacts and provided Radojevic with free lodging and meals at her Gahanna home. She also allegedly gave Radojevic about $170, bought him a meal and offered him the use of her credit card. The investigation also revealed Salyers provided Radojevic with free lodging, meals and clothes late in 1998 and at the start of 1999.
The allegations included Roslovic allegedly providing Savovic lodging and other expenses during the 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2001-01 and 2001-02 academic years and Savovic having some papers prepared for school credit by someone else during the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 academic years. The university also reported O'Brien provided two season tickets for four straight men's basketball seasons to Salyers.
The NCAA said O'Brien refused to provide home telephone and financial records, as requested by the enforcement staff during the investigation.
Former men's basketball assistant coach Paul Biancardi violated NCAA rules, according to the investigation, including knowing about the payment and recruiting inducements to Radojevic. The NCAA also said O'Brien demonstrated a failure to monitor the conduct and administration of the men's basketball team from July 1998 to May 2002.
O'Brien had a lot to say about the decision, especially knowing it will be difficult to gain a position with any NCAA team.
"Needelss to say, I'm extremely disappointed by this NCAA decision because really in no way does it reflect at all what actually occurred or how I ran my program. It's very hurtful to me. (There's) not a whole lot I can do about that right now," O'Brien said.
Biancardi is now the head coach at Wright State University. The NCAA prohibited Biancardi from recruiting until Oct. 1. If Wright State does not enforce the order, the committee would require school to appear before the committee and explain why additional penalties should not be imposed against the Dayton school.
While the university accepted responsibility for some violations, it blamed O'Brien for others, concluding that as a veteran coach, he knew or should have known NCAA rules.
OSU made its case by saying it "was first to notify the NCAA of possible violations."
The university imposed a postseason ban on the men's basketball team last season, the first season that Thad Matta coached the team. Matta led the team to 20 victories last season and coached the Buckeyes to the Big Ten Conference championship this season. He was named the conference's coach of the year earlier this week.
Meanwhile, O'Brien's attorney, Joseph Murray, told NBC 4 that he argued that Radojvic was a professional in his homeland of Yugoslavia, and therefore not subject to NCAA rules.
O'Brien won a lawsuit in the Ohio Court of Claims last month, after a judge determined the university did not have cause to fire O'Brien after he admitted the $6,700 loan.
Judge Joseph Clark ruled that although O'Brien had breached his contract by giving out the loan, the single incident was isolated and not severe enough for termination.
O'Brien had sued the school for $3.5 million but the actual amount he will receive will be set after the damages phase of the trial, which is to be scheduled later.
The NCAA's investigation also involved incidents involving the women's basketball and football programs.
A local Columbus orthodontist, who was a representative of athletics interests, provided $13,760 in extra benefits to five women's basketball student-athletes in the form of cost-free or discounted orthodontic care. Also, Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith received a $500 cash advance from a booster for work he never performed at a local health care facility. http://www.nbc4i.com/news/7877340/detail.html