O'Brien Speaks Out About Court Battle

Former Ohio State head basketball coach Jim O'Brien conducted a media teleconference today to discuss his victory over the university in his wrongful termination lawsuit heard before the Ohio Court of Claims.

Former Ohio State men's basketball coach Jim O'Brien and his attorneys conducted a conference call Wednesday afternoon, hours after learning that they had prevailed in their case before the Ohio Court of Claims regarding O'Brien's 2004 firing by the university.

O'Brien was represented in the case by attorneys Joe Murray and Brian Murphy. He participated while traveling today in Florida.

"Obviously, I am very happy with the outcome and the decision today," O'Brien said. "I am grateful for the Court of Claims and the decision that they made. But I can't help but say I'm tremendously disappointed that this matter had to be resolved in the manner that it did.

"As much as it is a nice outcome for me, I still don't feel that there any real winners. I sincerely wish that we didn't end up at this juncture. But for the sake of my personal reputation and the program, which I have to say I conducted in a very honest and I think good way, I was compelled to undertake this fight.

"We'll see how this thing gets played out. There is still more work to be done. I am just hopeful and really optimistic that both the university and myself, we can somehow find a way to put this behind us for the benefit of all of us."

ESPN's Andy Katz asked O'Brien about the ongoing NCAA investigation as well as if he would ever want to coach again.

"I have a lot of mixed emotions about a lot of this stuff," O'Brien said. "The NCAA part of this is still unresolved. We did have an NCAA hearing where we met in front of the infractions committee. Somebody asked me what I was even doing there and why I was pursuing this.

"I feel very very strongly that I needed to defend myself in this. We have run a very very clean program. A lot of the things that were said were not very flattering. I have taken great pride in how we have dealt with kids in these programs down through these years. Never once have I had the slightest blemish on my reputation as a college basketball coach.

"I felt the need to defend this and, if nobody else was going to defend me, I needed to be very proactive in trying to defend myself. In so doing, quite honestly, I was indirectly defending Ohio State and their basketball program because I was defending some of the allegations.

"That is ongoing. The infractions committee has some of the allegations before them. I guess before too long they're going to decide what it is they have to do. Then, we'll just have to play it by ear and see where it's going to take me … if I want to coach and if I get an opportunity to coach. I'm not really sure about that."

Although Judge Joseph T. Clark found for O'Brien, he said in his ruling he believes the coach may have committed an NCAA violation. But the judge said he did not believe the violation rose to the level necessary for O'Brien to lose his job in such an abrupt manner.

O'Brien was asked if he felt vindicated by the decision.

"I don't know if vindication is the right word," O'Brien said. "It is relief more than anything that we did win this case. It's relief that we're getting closer to a resolution. This has been a very difficult 20 months in my life. As I said earlier, I am thrilled with this decision. But this has not been great for me and I'm not happy that we had to go through this."

O'Brien was asked if the judge noting the infraction may have sent a mixed message with his ruling. But the former coach, noting that the judge must still rule on any monetary damages in the case, did not elaborate.

"I have no comment on that," O'Brien said. "I am sure you read his decision. It is far from being settled. I'm not going to get into any real technical discussions about stuff. There are still things that need to be resolved."

O'Brien was asked what Ohio State should have done differently to avoid this outcome.

"I have no comment on that, either," he said. "They did what they did and we responded the way that we responded. I can't speak for them for how they felt they needed to approach it. They decided to go down the road that they did and this is what we had to do to respond."

O'Brien was asked how this ruling will affect his reputation.

"I don't know," O'Brien said. "That's a good question. People are going to feel about me how they will feel. What I do know is that I have had tremendous support from the people who are close to me.

"Without question, I could go on for days about how sorry I am that this even happened. My reputation in this business has always meant a lot to me. Without question, that has been soiled. There's not a whole lot I can do about that right now. All I can do is move on the best I can.

"The thing I've always told my players is your credibility and your reputation is of the utmost (importance) because once you lose that it's hard to get that back, and that's where I am struggling right now."

O'Brien was asked how he passed the last 20 months since his dismissal.

"I know what I haven't been doing, and that's sleeping," he said. "This has been on my mind, the very last thought I would have going to bed, the absolute first thought in the morning and a lot of hours in between. I have had a lot of sleepless nights and the disappointment for how this whole thing got played out has not gone away."

A reporter asked O'Brien, who was making roughly $1 million a year at OSU, about the financial burden he has faced since his firing.

"It has been significant," he said. "I've taken on this chore of defending myself. It has cost a lot of money. I'm sure that part of it is not done. I have not had a paycheck in 20 months. It has been a drain, but I felt very strongly about fighting this."

Katz asked O'Brien if he expected former OSU athletic director Andy Geiger to grant him due process before beginning dismissal proceedings.

"I'm not really sure," O'Brien said. "Again, that might get into some of the technical components of the litigation. Because this thing is not over, I think I probably would be better served to let that go."

A reporter asked O'Brien if he was prepared to wait for the damages phase of the trial to be played out and also for any possible appeal by Ohio State.

"I don't know that," he said. "However that gets played out, that's how it will get played out. I don't know too much about the intricacies of the next step that will be played out. That's why I rely on Joe Murray to just take the necessary steps and go down the road of whatever has to come next."


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