May 17, 2005

Press Conference Video (.wmv)
Comments From Gene Smith, Jim Tressel,Thad Matta and Jim Foster

COLUMBUS – The Ohio State University today received its Notice of Allegations from the NCAA on charges of violations in the football and men’s and women’s basketball programs, President Karen A. Holbrook said at a news conference today at the Longaberger Alumni House, 2200 Olentangy River Road.

“Our receipt of this report brings to a close this phase of our joint investigation that is now moving forward to conclusion,” Holbrook said. “The allegations set forth in the report are consistent with our expectations. The actions we have taken to date are commensurate with the serious nature of these charges and with our commitment to maintain a great athletics program that fully complies with NCAA rules and adheres to the high academic standards of the university.”

Holbrook pointed out that investigations into the three programs began because the university self-reported the alleged violations as NCAA rules require. “When we learned of alleged improprieties in our men’s basketball program in spring 2004, we took the very public step of terminating the head coach. After careful consideration of the situation, on December 9 we self-imposed a ban on post-season play for 2005. When we learned in December 2004 of an improper benefit to a football student-athlete by a booster, we suspended the player immediately and notified the NCAA. The university also then completely disassociated the booster from the Department of Athletics. The women’s basketball issue also came to light in December 2004 and was reported immediately.”

Allegations contained in the NCAA notice are:
• Former men’s basketball coach Jim O’Brien, through then-assistant coach Paul Biancardi, provided a cash payment of approximately $6,700 to then-recruit Alex Radojevic.

• Kathleen Salyers had improper in-person contacts and impermissibly provided recruiting inducements to Radojevic.

• An individual (who became a booster after providing benefits) gave recruiting inducements and benefits to a former men’s basketball student-athlete, including meals, cash payments and living expenses.

• A booster provided a former men’s basketball student-athlete with impermissible academic assistance.

• O’Brien impermissibly provided Kathleen Salyers with two season tickets for four consecutive home men’s basketball seasons.

• O’Brien and Biancardi acted contrary to the principles of ethical conduct by failing to report their knowing involvement in NCAA rules violations relating to the above allegations.

• Both the institution and O’Brien failed to monitor the conduct and administration of the men’s basketball program.

• Ronald Erkis, a Columbus orthodontist, provided impermissible, cost-free or discounted services to several women’s basketball student-athletes.

• A booster provided an impermissible extra benefit to a football student-athlete in the form of a cash payment of $500 for work that allegedly was never performed.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a federal law known as FERPA, prohibits the university from disclosing information that would lead to the identification of a student. Therefore, the names of the student-athletes involved in the allegations and other personally identifiable information are redacted from the notice of allegations that the university has received and is making public today.

Athletics Director Gene Smith said the university will move quickly to respond to the notice of allegations and will gather the documents the NCAA has requested by its July 26 deadline. Information will not be released publicly until that time, he added.

“We will continue to cooperate fully throughout this process, and we believe the future of our program is bright,” Smith said. “At the same time, the Athletics Department will continue to operate with honesty and integrity while we further strengthen our standards in the area of booster education, compliance and academic excellence for our student-athletes.”