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Buckeyes may owe millions to ex-coach

Published Feb. 16, 2006

Ohio State, awaiting a decision on possible penalties for NCAA rules violations under former coach Jim O'Brien, could have to pay him millions for firing him under a judge's ruling Wednesday.

O'Brien claimed the university improperly fired him in June 2004 for loaning $6,000 of his money to a recruit.

Ohio Court of Claims Judge Joseph T. Clark ruled O'Brien broke his contract by giving the loan and failing to inform university officials, but the error was not serious enough to warrant firing. The university violated the contract by firing him without compensation, the ruling said.

O'Brien, 55, sued for $3.5-million in lost wages and benefits. The award, which could reach nearly $9.5-million with interest and other damages, will be determined after another hearing.

O'Brien said he was pleased with the decision but disappointed in the way the dispute had to be settled.

"As much as it's a nice outcome for me, I still don't really feel that there are any real winners in this thing," O'Brien said.