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Discussion in 'Buckeye Basketball' started by DaytonBuck, Jun 26, 2004.

  1. DaytonBuck

    DaytonBuck I've always liked them

    Phone records link OSU, Serbian middleman
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] By Mike Wagner and Kyle Nagel

    Dayton Daily News

    COLUMBUS | As Paul Biancardi recruited Serbian basketball players for Ohio State University, frequent phone calls were made from an OSU basketball office cell phone to the residence of a man well known for connecting Yugoslavian basketball players with American schools.

    A woman who has accused Biancardi and the OSU program of breaking National Collegiate Athletic Association rules identified the cell phone number as the one Biancardi used to call her.
    University phone records, obtained by the Dayton Daily News, show two dozen phone calls were made during a four-month period in 1998 from the university cell phone to Spomenko "Semi" Pajovic.

    Pajovic, who lives in New York, has helped numerous Serbian athletes, including three who signed letters of intent to attend Ohio State.

    Biancardi, the current Wright State University coach, was at the airport with Pajovic the day former OSU player Slobodan "Boban" Savovic flew into Columbus for his official recruiting visit, according to Mike Sierawski, a Columbus man who also greeted Savovic at the airport that day.

    The NCAA, which is investigating OSU's basketball program and Biancardi's handling of former players and recruits, prohibits colleges and universities from using middlemen or brokers to land players.

    The phone records show 26 phone calls were made to Pajovic's residence from July 25 to Oct. 31, 1998. Two of the calls were made with an administrative calling card belonging to Biancardi, the records show, while the others came from a cell phone issued to the basketball office.

    The phone calls were made during a period when Savovic moved in with a Columbus nanny who says she gave the player cash and other benefits for more than two years, and as OSU was recruiting Savovic's close friend, 7-foot-3 Aleksandar Radojevic.

    The allegations made against the OSU program and Biancardi stem from a lawsuit that does not directly involve the university. The suit was filed in August by Kathleen Salyers against Kim and Dan Roslovic and alleges the couple agreed to pay her $1,000 a month plus expenses to house and care for Savovic, who played as a freshman on Ohio State's 1998-99 team that went to the Final Four.

    Savovic lived with the Roslovics, both OSU grads, for about a month before Dan Roslovic allegedly made the agreement with Salyers, a former housekeeper and child-care provider for the now-divorced couple. The Roslovics, in separate sworn depositions, both said they had no agreement with Salyers to care for Savovic.

    Biancardi is not a defendant in the lawsuit, but his name appears frequently throughout the case documents, including an 800-page deposition Salyers gave this spring. Salyers claims in the deposition that Biancardi urged her to have two professors change Savovic's grades, told her to pay thousands of dollars in international taxes owed by the player and told her to lie about her relationship with Savovic.

    In an interview with the Daily News , Salyers also said Biancardi visited her home five to 10 times, and the coach gave her two season basketball tickets to thank her for caring for Savovic.

    The lawsuit and ensuing controversy erupted 16 days ago when Ohio State Athletics Director Andy Geiger fired basketball coach Jim O'Brien after he admitted giving $6,000 to the family of Radojevic after he signed his letter of intent to play for OSU in November 1998. O'Brien said the money was to go to Radojevic's mother in Yugoslavia after Radojevic's father died on Sept. 8, 1998.

    Radojevic was eventually ruled ineligible by the NCAA for playing professionally in Europe and never enrolled at the university.

    Biancardi has denied all of Salyers' accusations, but has declined to answer questions from the media about his role in the recruitment and handling of Savovic and other Serbian athletes at Ohio State.

    "These allegations are not true and not supported by fact," Biancardi has said through a prepared statement.

    When Savovic arrived for his official recruiting visit on May 3, 1998, Sierawski, a former president of the St. Stevan of Dechani Serbian Orthodox Church and a prominent member of Columbus' Serbian population, was the first person to greet him.

    "I said, 'Who's picking you up?' " Sierawski told the Daily News last week. "And he said, 'An assistant coach and my uncle.' "

    Pajovic often refers to himself as the "uncle" of the Serbian basketball players he brings to the United States.

    According to Sierawski, he then saw Biancardi and Pajovic waiting near the Max and Erma's restaurant in the airport. Sierawski said the four stopped briefly at a dinner at Sierawski's church before Biancardi, Pajovic and the player left.

    Savovic signed his letter of intent 12 days later.

    Sierawski met with NCAA investigators in Columbus on Wednesday, a day after Salyers had a five-hour meeting with the association.

    Three players who signed letters of intent to play basketball for the Buckeyes —Savovic, Radojevic, and Slobodan "Cobe" Ocokoljic — have links to Pajovic.

    Efforts to reach Biancardi and Pajovic were unsuccessful. Savovic's whereabouts are unknown.

    A Web site identifies Pajovic as a vice president of Pinnacle Management Corp., a company founded by sports agent Marc Cornstein. The company represents 32 players internationally, according to the company's Web site.

    Salyers said she often talked to Pajovic, and that he even stayed a couple of nights at her home while visiting players in Columbus. She also claims she frequently saw Cornstein leaving the Ohio State locker room following games.

    While she cared for the Serbian players, Salyers says Biancardi called her numerous times. University phone records show more than 20 calls from the OSU cell phone to Salyers' residence from July to October of 1998.

    The records also show a flurry of calls from the same phone to the people helping Savovic. During a single hour on Sept. 4, 1998, there were four calls placed to Salyers, two to Dan Roslovic's residence, and three to Pajovic.

    Salyers also said Biancardi and Pajovic talked on a regular basis.

    "I know that many times when Paul would call me, he would say, 'I already talked to Semi about this,' " she said.

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