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max venable
02-15-2006, 11:06 AM
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A judge ruled Wednesday that Ohio State improperly fired basketball coach Jim O'Brien in 2004 after university officials learned he had loaned money to a recruit.

O'Brien broke his contract by giving the $6,000 loan, but the error was not serious enough to warrant firing, Ohio Court of Claims Judge Joseph T. Clark said, finding in O'Brien's favor in the coach's lawsuit against the university.

"Because plaintiff's failure of performance was not material, defendant did not have cause for termination," the judge wrote.

O'Brien sued the university for $3.5 million in lost wages and benefits after he was fired in June 2004. With interest and other damages, he could receive nearly $9.5 million. Damages will be determined after another hearing.

The coach, who led Ohio State to the Final Four in 1999, had argued that the personal loan to Aleksandar Radojevic, a 7-foot-3 prospect from Serbia, was not a violation because he knew Radojevic already had forfeited his amateur status by playing professionally.

He said he gave the money to Radojevic's family in late 1998 or early 1999 because the player's father had recently died and the family needed money for a funeral.

Radojevic never played for the Buckeyes, and O'Brien said he didn't tell university officials because it was a moot point.

In his lawsuit, O'Brien contended he was fired before any investigation could even determine if he had broken NCAA rules. A provision of his contract said the NCAA had to rule on alleged violations before he could be fired for that reason.

Ohio State President Karen Holbrook testified that she didn't have to wait to hear from the NCAA how serious the violation was.

"The contract still requires him to uphold Ohio State's standards, which are the same as the NCAA's in part, but nonetheless, it is an Ohio State contract that was breached," she said.

But in his ruling, the judge disputed the university's claim that O'Brien acted in bad faith and tried to cover up his actions.

"The evidence does not support such a sinister view of plaintiff's misconduct," Clark said.

O'Brien, 55, coached the Buckeyes to a 133-88 record that included two Big Ten titles and a conference tournament title in seven seasons.

The NCAA is also investigating alleged violations committed during O'Brien's coaching tenure with the Buckeyes. It is expected to decide within the next few weeks on penalties for the program over the nine alleged violations, seven in the men's basketball program, one in football and one in women's basketball.

A university spokeswoman said a statement would be released later Wednesday.

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/news/story?id=2331340

flyer85
02-15-2006, 11:28 AM
oops.

:fineprint

Reds4Life
02-15-2006, 11:30 AM
Now if the NCAA places sanctions on OSU you can kiss that recruiting class next year good bye.

Chip R
02-15-2006, 11:51 AM
I guess they need to bring O'Brien back now, eh? ;)

max venable
02-15-2006, 12:04 PM
The judge said he violated his contract- end of ruling! What a spineless judgement. You either violate it or you don't. There is no gray area.

Cedric
02-15-2006, 12:11 PM
Honestly it's the best thing ever that he gave that cash. Matta is the man.

max venable
02-15-2006, 12:34 PM
Honestly it's the best thing ever that he gave that cash. Matta is the man.
I agree. Now let's just get this thing behind us and get ready for March Madness!

flyer85
02-15-2006, 12:37 PM
Now if the NCAA places sanctions on OSU you can kiss that recruiting class next year good bye.this doesn't change the OSU/NCAA violations scenario. I can see the Bucks getting some scholarship reductions but I doubt they would get another post season ban.

redsfan30
02-15-2006, 01:03 PM
This ruling has nothing at all to do with what the NCAA does as far as sanctions. And as flyer said, I only see them having to remove the Final Four banner and pay back the money and maybe lose a few scholarships.

I would be stunned, and I do me stunned if any more post season bans fall.

bucksfan
02-15-2006, 01:32 PM
I echo what others have said, this has nothing to do with NCAA sanctions that may or may not be levied against the program.

It still is very odd to me. I have no idea why, if he really wanted to help the kid, Obiedid not just go through the compliance office to see what could be done. The fact that he did not baffles me.

REDREAD
02-15-2006, 02:19 PM
this doesn't change the OSU/NCAA violations scenario. I can see the Bucks getting some scholarship reductions but I doubt they would get another post season ban.

It all depends. NC State got slammed hard when they only thing they proved was that some players sold their shoes. Of course, OSU is lucky that no one wrote a book about them.

I'm not hoping OSU gets hit hard, but it's certainly possible. The NCAA punishments are almost totally random.

LincolnparkRed
02-15-2006, 02:27 PM
I only see them having to remove the Final Four banner and pay back the money and maybe lose a few scholarships.

I would be stunned, and I do me stunned if any more post season bans fall.

I think the banners only come down when a player on that team actually violates some sort of rule. Since Rodojevic never played this shouldn't affect their tournament results. Also if they lose that banner then Duke should lose 1999 as well for Maggette.

flyer85
02-15-2006, 02:35 PM
It all depends. NC State got slammed hard when they only thing they proved was that some players sold their shoes. Of course, OSU is lucky that no one wrote a book about them.

I'm not hoping OSU gets hit hard, but it's certainly possible. The NCAA punishments are almost totally random.they already took a self imposed post-season ban last year on what would have been an NCAA tourney team(as it turned out). I just don't see the NCAA hitting them with another one. However, you don't know when they want to make an example of someone.

bucksfan
02-15-2006, 02:39 PM
It all depends. NC State got slammed hard when they only thing they proved was that some players sold their shoes. Of course, OSU is lucky that no one wrote a book about them.

I'm not hoping OSU gets hit hard, but it's certainly possible. The NCAA punishments are almost totally random.


OSU already self-sanctioned in hopes that such an action would be a show of good faith towards the charges regarding Savovic and the O'Brien payment to Radejovic. I think the point is that this ruling against OSU from a legal perspective would not impact what the NCAA would do as far as any further penalities against the OSU program. At least I cannot see any possible connection.

LoganBuck
02-15-2006, 02:43 PM
I was glad when Obrien was canned. I still think it was the right thing to do. He lied to his boss's face, and committed serious violations. Anybody else would have been canned as well. Too bad Obrien has no shame. Oh yeah, he was a terrible recruiter and an overall mediocre coach.

max venable
02-15-2006, 04:59 PM
I thought this editorial was worth a look:

By Dave Biddle
Assistant Editor
Date: Feb 15, 2006

Jim O'Brien won his lawsuit against Ohio State, but it doesn't make it any easier to believe his bogus claims. In today's edition of Bucknotes, Dave Biddle explains why it's obvious that O'Brien is not being honest about why he gave a former OSU basketball recruit money.

Jim O’Brien won his lawsuit against Ohio State, but can anyone believe a word he says? The former OSU basketball coach was fired in June 2004 for giving at least $6,000 to recruit Alexsandar Radojevic.

O’Brien makes two claims that are very hard to believe: First, he says the gift was a “loan.” But it’s hard to imagine that the 7-3 Radojevic planned on paying the money back.

Second, and most seriously, O’Brien claims that he knew Radojevic had forfeited his collegiate eligibility when he gave him the money (for playing briefly in a European professional league). That is as blatant of a lie as you will ever hear. “Party Poker is not a gambling site,” is easier to believe than that.

If O’Brien knew Radojevic would never play at OSU, why did he appeal the NCAA’s decision that ruled Radojevic ineligible in 1999? Why was O’Brien quoted in numerous publications at the time blasting the NCAA for its decision to not allow Radojevic to play?

So, let’s clear that up right now: It was not a “loan” as most news organizations are reporting. O’Brien was cheating. When he gave Radojevic the cash, he was definitely under the impression that the Serbian giant would play for Ohio State. In fact, O’Brien was shocked when he learned that Radojevic was ruled ineligible.

As for O’Brien actually winning his lawsuit, I’m not sure who is more to blame: Judge Joseph T. Clark for buying the bogus claims, or Ohio State’s lawyers for not doing a good enough job of proving that O’Brien was lying and knew very well that he was giving a possible future OSU player money.

In fairness to Clark, he did state that O’Brien broke his contract by giving Radojevic the money. But he added that it was not egregious enough to warrant firing. Really? Giving a recruit money is not egregious?

O’Brien did have a clause in his contract that he could only be fired after a finding of wrongdoing by the NCAA. But then-athletic director Andy Geiger made the right move. It was obvious that giving money to a prospective student-athlete was a violation and since the NCAA relies on its schools to police themselves, I see nothing wrong with OSU firing O’Brien for what was a clear violation of NCAA rules. Giving a recruit money it right up there with point shaving. If OSU found out that O’Brien was throwing games, it would have fired him on the spot, right?

For winning the case in the Ohio Court of Claims, O’Brien will become an even richer man. Quite a nice bonus for cheating. Just how much will he get? Well, he was seeking $3.5 million in lost wages and benefits after he was fired. With interest and other damages, he could receive nearly $9.5 million.

To quote the former coach: “This is sad.”

The good news is that it all worked out in the end for OSU basketball fans. The Buckeyes now have a better coach – Thad Matta. He’s a much better recruiter, more energetic, and the guess here is that he won’t do anything stupid enough to get the program placed on probation.

O’Brien was a lazy recruiter who cheated. “I don’t recruit posses,” he liked to say. OK, fair enough. But he did pull strings for players that had names that ended in “vic.”

Unless his head was buried in the sand, O’Brien knew exactly what was going on with Boban Savovic, the player that was living like a Serbian king in Gahanna with Kathleen Salyers. (I just made her day by mentioning her name in this column. She likes attention like Kimo Von Oelhoffen likes cheap shots.)

I was also surprised to learn last week that O’Brien never called his former OSU players to wish them well, or just simply to say hello. Senior center Terence Dials told me that he and O’Brien have not spoken since the day it went down. That tells you about O’Brien’s integrity right there. Here were are almost two years later and O’Brien still hasn’t tried to contact his former players. The players he brought to OSU.

The bad news for O’Brien is that I have a hard time imagining he will ever coach again. At least not a good Division I program. He has now filed lawsuits against both of his former employers, including his alma mater Boston College. Yes, O’Brien was low enough to sue his alma mater. So it’s easy to imagine how he justified giving a recruit money.



http://ohiostate.scout.com/2/499828.html

GAC
02-15-2006, 07:37 PM
Doesn't matter to me. All I know is that two teams I love dearly have gotten rid of O'Briens. Luck of the Irish. ;)

Chip R
02-16-2006, 12:01 AM
In fairness to Clark, he did state that O?Brien broke his contract by giving Radojevic the money. But he added that it was not egregious enough to warrant firing. Really? Giving a recruit money is not egregious?

Maybe the judge did his undergrad work at UK and he thought paying players was the norm, not the exception. ;)

REDREAD
02-17-2006, 10:53 AM
However, you don't know when they want to make an example of someone.

That's what I agree with. I don't know enough about the OSU situation, but from what I've seen, the punishments are almost totally random.
Magetti and Duke is another good example. The NCAA looked the other way on that one.

I think you're right, the self imposed penalty will help them get leniency.

max venable
02-18-2006, 10:20 AM
CBSsportsline weighs in:

CBS SportsLine.com Senior Writer
Tell Gregg your opinion!

Maybe there's no hope for college sports. Maybe this is a losing battle after all. The most recent, and possibly most dispiriting, jolt of bad news came this week when a judge ruled that Ohio State had improperly fired men's basketball coach Jim O'Brien in June 2004.

Sickening.


Jim O'Brien might be turning 6,000 dirty dollars into $9 million. (Getty Images)
O'Brien gave $6,000 to a recruit, but that major NCAA violation was not serious enough to warrant his firing, according to Judge Joseph T. Clark.

Clark, who found his law degree on a sidewalk, said O'Brien's major NCAA violation "was not material" and therefore not cause for his dismissal. In related news, attorneys for Jim Harrick, Jan van Breda Kolff and Dave Bliss are expected to file motions to have future legal proceedings moved to Clark's courtroom.

So the legal system is out. If a judge can't be of service, who can? Not the NCAA. The NCAA doesn't have the power of subpoena, which means the best an NCAA investigator can do is stare sternly into the eyes of a known cheater and pray the cheater confesses. If the cheater gets his story straight, and convinces those around him to keep his story straight, the NCAA has no chance.

It's not the NCAA's fault. It's simple math: No subpoena plus no perjury equals no case.

So if the NCAA can't root out cheaters, and the legal system is so stupid as to lay down this precedent, where do we turn? We turn back to the 1970s, that's where. Let's bring back Jerry Tarkanian and Barry Switzer and whoever was running SMU football before the death penalty. Let's exhume UCLA sugar daddy Sam Gilbert. Hey, guys, it's a party and you're invited! The NCAA is impotent, and Judge Joseph T. Clark is out on the road trying to catch a Buick in his teeth.

This really is bad. The precedent, the NCAA knows, is awful. O'Brien gave a recruit $6,000. The recruit, Aleksandar Radojevic, was a 7-foot-3 future NBA player from Serbia. His family was going through all kinds of hell in Serbia.

Was O'Brien's $6,000 gift done for humanitarian reasons? Maybe. But how many 5-7 Serbian mechanics did O'Brien help out?

O'Brien's story is that he gave the money to Radojevic after learning that Radojevic already had forfeited his amateur status by playing professionally. O'Brien can't pinpoint when exactly he gave the money -- it was late 1998 or early 1999, reports from the trial say -- but he's sure it was after Radojevic was no longer a potential recruit.

But everyone has a story. Harrick, whose son at Georgia taught a class so simple that Joseph T. Clark could have passed, says he didn't deserve to be fired. Van Breda Kolff, who at St. Bonaventure played a graduate of the same welding school that produced Judge Joseph T. Clark, says he didn't deserve to be fired.

Now Jim O'Brien has said the same thing, and a judge, chillingly, has agreed. But if O'Brien can't be fired, who can? That's the question wafting from Judge Joseph T. Clark's courtroom like a bad stink.

Here's the deal. When a coach commits a major NCAA violation, his bosses need to know they can fire him without legal consequences. Ohio State doesn't know yet what the consequences will be, but O'Brien's lawsuit asked for $3.5 million in lost wages and benefits. With interest and lost wages, the Associated Press is reporting, O'Brien could win more than $9 million.

Ponzi schemes have nothing on Jim O'Brien's investment. Give a recruit $6,000, and seven years later you get $9 million!

Stop taking notes, Harrick. No one will ever hire you again.

Well ... maybe. Judge Joseph T. Clark could always become an athletics director.

cincinnati chili
02-21-2006, 06:25 AM
If anyone wants to read a copy of O'Brien's complaint, here it is (in PDF format):

www.dispatch.com/2006/02/15/courtofclaims.pdf