Salyers' Attorney Says Coaches Knew Of Arrangement

A Columbus attorney claimed Tuesday that fired OSU basketball coach Jim O'Brien and a key assistant knew about the arrangement where former player Boban Savovic received benefits from a booster. Also, former Buckeye star John Havlicek commented on WBNS-AM regarding news reports that Bob Knight is interested in following O'Brien as the OSU coach. Click this free link for more.

Jeffrey Lucas, the Columbus-based attorney for Kathleen Salyers, conducted a press conference Tuesday at his office. During the session, he claimed that his client has received death threats since reports of her lawsuit against two Ohio State boosters led to Jim O'Brien's firing as the school's head men's basketball coach.

Lucas told reporters that Salyers, a former housekeeper for a Columbus couple who allegedly provided benefits to former OSU basketball player Boban Savovic, did not originally seek to expose rules violations within the OSU program. She sought only to recoup expenses she incurred while housing Savovic at the couple's behest.

"This entire ordeal has been a tremendous strain on her,'' Lucas said.

Accordingly, Salyers did not appear at the news conference. However, Lucas revealed she does plan to meet with OSU lawyers and NCAA investigators sometime next week.

According to court depositions, Salyers said she housed Savovic for two of his four years at OSU. She also claimed that former OSU assistant Paul Biancardi, now the head coach at Wright State, was well aware of the player's living arrangements, which would be illegal under NCAA rules.

Biancardi has offered little comment on the matter, but does refute those allegations.

On Monday, Salyers told Sports Illustrated that she believes O'Brien was aware she provided extra benefits for former Savovic as early as 1998, his freshman season. Lucas, showed phone records that may corroborate her claim that assistant coach Biancardi orchestrated her arrangement with Savovic.

"I would have preferred to settle this case a long time ago, and it wouldn't have come to this," Salyers told on Monday. "I hate to see anyone lose their job. I didn't want this."

OSU athletic director Andy Geiger fired O'Brien one week ago, citing the coach's admission that he had provided one-time recruit Aleksandar Radojevic in excess of $6,000 for humanitarian aid.

O'Brien told Geiger of the payment in April when he learned aspects of it would become public record as a result of Salyers' lawsuit.

Knight Next?

Rumors and news reports seem to center on two key candidates to replace O‘Brien.'s Andy Katz has reported that former OSU player Bob Knight, now the head coach at Texas Tech, would listen if Ohio State and/or Geiger would call regarding the vacancy.

According to Katz, influential people have contacted OSU on Knight's behalf. At the same time, Texas Tech announced last Wednesday that Knight had agreed to a three-year contract extension through 2009. However, it has also been reported that Knight has not signed that extension.

Katz also reported that Xavier's Thad Matta would also have to be considered a serious candidate, ahead of a field that may also include Marquette's Tom Crean, Rutgers' Gary Waters, and N.C. State's Herb Sendek. Sources indicated it is unlikely that OSU will go after any professional coaches, including George Karl and former OSU player Jim Cleamons.

Knight is set to begin his fourth season at Tech -- his 39th overall -- with 832 wins. He is the victory leader among active coaches following the retirement of Jim Phelan of Mount St. Mary's in 2003.

He was hired by Texas Tech in 2001, six months after he was fired by Indiana for what then-school president Myles Brand called his "pattern of unacceptable behavior."

Knight's Red Raiders have posted three straight 20-win seasons and made a pair of NCAA appearances. His current five-year contract is worth $4.5 million. In addition to the $250,000 in base pay, he was given $150,000 in deferred annual income and $500,000 in guaranteed outside income through May 2006.

John Havlicek, one of Knight's former teammates on OSU's 1960 national championship team, appeared on WBNS-AM's "Herbstreit and Fitzsimmons Show" Tuesday afternoon to discuss the sudden job opening at his alma mater. He was shocked at O‘Brien‘s ouster.

"Jimmy O'Brien is one of the great character guys," Havlicek said. "When he was hired at Ohio State, I endorsed him because I had a chance to see him at Boston College and the fine job he did here.

"He's a man of great integrity. Sometimes, the moral thing to do is one thing and the cheating type of thing is another thing. Sometimes, you're put in a position where you feel obligated to do something, even if it might violate a rule. You have to pay the consequences if that happens. I feel bad for everyone involved."

Show hosts Kirk Herbstreit and Ian Fitzsimmons then discussed the job search and dropped Knight's name.

"I think it's one of the plum jobs in the entire country," Havlicek said. "Football is seen to be dominant there, but their isn't any reason basketball can't be on the same level, especially with the facilities they have and the type of people they have at the university.

"Let's get this right. Hopefully, they can get someone in that position to make it right."

When educated about Katz's report, Havlicek threw his support behind Knight.

"He is a friend of mine and if that's what he wants, I'll go with Bob Knight," Havlicek said. "If they would want to sell out that arena, Bob Knight would certainly do that. I think if he could ever come back there, the people would cheer him on as hard as they rooted against him.

"If he would want to come back, I would certainly go along with it. Certainly, there is the chance he would do something out of the ordinary. But he hasn't done that as much in recent years. I think he learned his lesson after that Indiana debacle."

Havlicek said he thinks Knight may be interested in coming back to the Big Ten.

"He left (Indiana) with a bad taste in his mouth," Havlicek said. "He probably would want to come back into the Big Ten to try and resurrect himself."

Buckeye Sports Top Stories