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