OSU Responds to NCAA Allegations

Ohio State defended itself to the NCAA on Wednesday, contending that it did properly monitor its men's basketball program. The university also blasted former head coach Jim O'Brien and former assistant Paul Biancardi in the report.

In a 250-page response to the NCAA, Ohio State contends that it properly monitored its men's basketball program and blamed former head coach Jim O'Brien and assistant coach Paul Biancardi for any improprieties.

Ohio State was responding to nine charges of wrongdoing. The university agreed with eight of the NCAA's allegations but said that one — that it had failed to monitor former basketball player Boban Savovic's housing and his relationship with Kathleen Salyers – was not true.

According to the document sent to the NCAA on Wednesday, Ohio State claims that it consistently pursued reasonable measures to monitor the program, but that its efforts to do so were prevented by O'Brien and Biancardi.

"Ohio State has found itself the victim of improper behavior on the part of two former coaches and a few boosters, which has given rise to the allegations," the report stated. "(Ohio State) took all reasonable steps to ensure the university's compliance with NCAA bylaws and did not fail to adequately monitor the situation. … University officials were repeatedly misled by O'Brien and Biancardi."

Biancardi, now head basketball coach at Wright State University, "was aware of and actively participated in" the arrangement for Savovic to live in Salyers' home and knew Salyers was paying Savovic's international taxes, according to the report.

Ohio State's report to the NCAA continued to insist that the university did all it could do to monitor the situation, given the circumstances of dishonest employees.

"NCAA legislation does not specify how an institution is to monitor for rules compliance, nor does it specify the expected level of monitoring," the document read. "Even though Bylaw 2.8.1 states that an institution should 'monitor its program to assure compliance,' institutions are not expected to monitor at a level that guarantees compliance. We know from infractions case precedent that is not expected that monitoring be so comprehensive as to prevent any violation. If that were the standard, there would be a lack of adequate or appropriate monitoring finding in each infractions case. This does not happen. Therefore, the standard must be one of reasonable monitoring under the circumstances as presented to the institution.

"Ohio State firmly believes that it monitored its men's basketball program in a manner where it was reasonable to expect rules compliance."

The NCAA has charged OSU with seven suspected NCAA violations in the men's basketball program and one each in football and women's basketball.

The violation in the women's basketball program is that a Columbus orthodontist provided free or discounted care to players. The football violation stems from quarterback Troy Smith taking $500 from an OSU booster.

The NCAA's infractions committee will review the allegations and responses at a hearing Dec. 9-10. That committee will decide any punishment.

Due to the violations, Ohio State fired O'Brien in June of 2004 and self-imposed one penalty, stripping the men's basketball team of a possible postseason berth last season (2004-05).

Also in the report, Ohio State voluntarily reduced the number of scholarship for its men's basketball team for this season (2005-06) from the NCAA maximum of 13 to 11.

Whether the NCAA will consider that a self-imposed "penalty" is anyone's guess. The Buckeyes only have 10 players on scholarship this season anyway.

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