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Thursday, September 20, 2007
Ohio State ordered to pay O'Brien $2.4 million for wrongful firing

Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State must pay former men's basketball coach Jim O'Brien more than $2.4 million for his wrongful firing in 2004, an appeals court ordered Thursday.

The 10th District Court of Appeals also ruled that O'Brien should not receive an additional $1.3 million that he had said he was owed by the university.

In the majority ruling, Judges Donna Bowman and G. Gary Tyack affirmed a decision by the Ohio Court of Claims. Judge Judith L. French dissented.

University attorneys had argued that O'Brien committed a material breach of his contract and shouldn't receive any money.

The university has 45 days to appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court, which can elect not to hear the appeal.

O'Brien, the head coach of the Buckeyes from 1998-2004, was fired after revealing to then-Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger that he had loaned a recruit $6,000.

O'Brien sued Ohio State for wrongly firing him and was awarded $2.2 million plus interest last August. Court of Claims Judge Joseph T. Clark ruled that Ohio State did not follow the conditions of the contract with the coach before dismissing him.

Ohio State said in a statement it was disappointed in the ruling and considering appealing to the Ohio Supreme Court.

"Ohio State is committed to the highest possible standards for its athletics programs and maintains that it acted appropriately in dismissing Coach O'Brien after he committed serious NCAA violations in breach of his contract and failed to report those in a timely manner to the university," said Christopher Culley, the university's vice president and general counsel.

A message seeking comment was left for O'Brien's attorney, Joseph Murray.