Jump to content

Judge: O'Brien Wrongly Fired from OSU


WJMorris3

Recommended Posts

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.

Okay, this makes me sick. We know he committed NCAA violations and yet OSU can't fire him because of it? Moreover, they've got to pay him millions? Sheesh, this ruling might make the NCAA in need of some tadalafil.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is a joke didn;t he get a buy out?

College Coaches with 6 and 7 figure salries should not have teh same rights as some one who makes 30,000 and needs the right to work protection.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

College Coaches with 6 and 7 figure salries should not have teh same rights as some one who makes 30,000 and needs the right to work protection.

That sounds quite bizarre knowing your political leanings.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

is Ohio a "right to work" state? pretty much meaning they could fire you no just because they felt like it

I believe the term for which you are looking is "at will employment." "Right to work" has to do with the prohibition against union shops (you can't be denied employment if you aren't a member of a union).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

is Ohio a "right to work" state? pretty much meaning they could fire you no just because they felt like it

I believe the term for which you are looking is "at will employment." "Right to work" has to do with the prohibition against union shops (you can't be denied employment if you aren't a member of a union).

Correct. "At will" means you can be fired for good reason or no reason, just not for "bad" reason (i.e., race, gender, religion, etc.).

From reading the quoted article, it looks he was not an "at will" employee because he had a contract limiting the grounds for termination. Not that I agree with the judge, but he basically ruled that O'Brien hadn't materially breached either of the provisions relied upon by Ohio State. The ruling regarding the NCAA violation provision appears correct if, in fact, he could not be fired until the NCAA ruled on the violations. As for the "Ohio State standards", the judge appears to have bought O'Brien's explanation that he didn't knowingly violate any rules and/or cover them up.

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

Without hearing the evidence, it is hard to say whether that decision was a correct one, but it certainly sounds like a stretch.

College Coaches with 6 and 7 figure salries should not have teh same rights as some one who makes 30,000 and needs the right to work protection.

As for this point, he only received that protection because he negotiated for it in his contract. Absent the contract, he would be treated just like the guy making $30,000. For better or worse, Jim O'Brien had a little more bargaining power than that guy and was able to limit Ohio State's options/remedies. Some $30,000 guys can do that too, but usually only if they are in a union and have those rights built into a collective bargaining agreement.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.