PD Report: O'Brien Sues Ohio State

Ohio State, already embroiled in controversy over Maurice Clarett, will apparently have to defend itself in a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by former men's basketball coach Jim O'Brien. The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported today that O'Brien has filed suit against the school.

If one raging controversy isn't enough, Ohio State will probably have to defend itself in court over the termination this past June of men's basketball coach Jim O'Brien.

The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported today that O'Brien filed suit in the Ohio Court of Claims. In the suit, O'Brien claims he is owed at least $3.4 million.

O'Brien was fired in June after he admitted arranging for a former recruit to receive $6,000. His lawsuit was filed in the Ohio Court of Claims in Columbus, a special court that hears actions against the state of Ohio.

O'Brien's suit contends there has been no finding of a breech of NCAA rules by the coach and that O'Brien was not fired for cause.

According to The Plain Dealer, Joseph F. Murray, one of the Columbus lawyers who filed the suit for O'Brien, said Wednesday that the coach's contract with OSU was renegotiated after he took the basketball team to the NCAA Final Four in 1999. The new contract narrowed the circumstances under which he could be fired, Murray said.

The suit seeks damages under two alternate theories growing out of O'Brien's contract: that he is entitled to "at least $3.4 million"; or, because OSU has failed to pay him that amount, that it owes him $6 million.

"We don't comment on pending litigation," OSU athletic director Andy Geiger told the PD on Wednesday.

Ohio State did release the following statement Thursday afternoon:

"The Ohio State Athletic Department operated well within its authority in dismissing Coach O'Brien and made its decision in the best interest of the university and its athletic program," the statement read. "The university has nothing further to add pending a thorough review of the lawsuit by legal counsel."

O'Brien was fired on June 8, roughly six weeks after he told Geiger he had provided over $6,000 in cash to one-time recruit Aleksandar Radojevic for humanitarian aid for his family in wartorn Serbia.

As the story unraveled, it was revealed that a Columbus woman was suing a pair of OSU boosters who asked her to provide living arrangements for OSU guard Boban Savovic. This woman, Kathleen Salyers, was also involved in handling money from O'Brien to or from Radojevic.

O'Brien's firing came with five years to run on his annual $864,000 contract.

OSU hired former Xavier coach Thad Matta to coach the team in July. He will make his regular season debut with OSU Monday against Towson State in the Guardians Classic at Value City Arena.

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