Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Thursday, June 10, 2004

Savovic brothers part of Ohio State suit

Advertiser Staff and News Services

Rick Boyages took over as interim basketball coach at Ohio State after Jim O'Brien was fired on Tuesday.

Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A lawsuit that led to the firing of Ohio State men's basketball coach Jim O'Brien alleges that O'Brien and one of his assistants knew that player Boban Savovic received regular payments and classroom help, in defiance of NCAA rules.

Boban Savovic is the younger brother of former University of Hawai'i star Predrag Savovic. Predrag is also alleged in the lawsuit to have received benefits from an Ohio woman.

Kathleen Salyers, who said she housed and fed Boban for two years, testified in a deposition in April that she spent thousands of dollars on phone bills, car insurance and spending money for Boban, who was on the 1998-99 team that O'Brien led to the Final Four.

Salyers also said that she paid for Predrag to fly to Ohio from Hawai'i for a visit with Boban. Predrag played for Hawai'i from 1999-2003.

"That's news to me," Hawai'i head coach Riley Wallace said when informed of Predrag's involvement in the case. "I'm not worried about it. We (at UH) had nothing to do with it. That's all about (Ohio State)."

Predrag's involvement is only a small part of a larger case against Ohio State.

Salyers said Ohio State assistant coach Paul Biancardi regularly contacted her about Boban and often told her he was calling at O'Brien's instruction.

"He (Biancardi) called and told me when taxes were due, when Boban was flunking a class, to go and talk to the professor and have his grade changed," Salyers said. "There were many, many calls from Paul Biancardi requesting that I pay something for Boban."

Ohio State fired O'Brien on Tuesday after he admitted he gave $6,000 in 1999 to Aleksandar Radojevic, a Buckeyes recruit who never played for or attended Ohio State. Radojevic was ruled ineligible by the NCAA for accepting money to play for a professional team in Yugoslavia.

The Savovic brothers are also from Yugoslavia.

Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger learned of the payment because it was mentioned in Salyers' statement in her lawsuit.

NCAA rules prohibit student-athletes from receiving any financial help from anyone other than family members.

In the deposition, Salyers said she did not receive $1,000 per month plus expenses she had been promised by Dan and Kim Roslovic, Boban's sponsors. Salyers sued the Ohio State boosters, seeking $510,000 in expenses and damages.

She also acknowledged that her attorney asked O'Brien for money to keep her story from becoming public.

Salyers, who was the Roslovics' baby sitter, said she agreed to take in Boban after receiving a call from Dan Roslovic, who said he was calling from Biancardi's basketball office.

Salyers said she did most of Boban's homework for three years because he had difficulty with the English language.

Salyers estimates that she gave Boban $200 on 120 occasions — a total of $24,000 — frequently putting the cash in his medicine chest because he was uncomfortable taking the money directly from her hand.

Salyers provided receipts representing at least $1,600 she paid in car insurance on Boban's 1990 Acura Legend. She said she paid at least $800 in phone bills and for Boban's international taxes.

"It's just endless," Salyers said under oath. "It just goes on and on and on."

Her deposition also alleged:

  • That Boban and a booster had a sexual relationship.
  • That Boban amassed a bill of more than $10,000 on a long-distance telephone card that belonged to the father of New York player agent Mark Cornstein. NCAA rules bar any contact between agents and eligible players.
  • That Cornstein had access to Ohio State players and she had seen him in the Buckeyes' locker room after games. NCAA rules prohibit any contact between agents and NCAA players.

Cornstein, who is now the agent for both Savovic brothers, did not answer a message left seeking comment.