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Ex-Ohio State Coach Jim O’Brien Wins Lawsuit Against the University

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During the 2004 Ohio State University Scarlet and Gray Spring Football game, then OSU men’s basketball coach, Jim O’Brien, confided in his friend and boss, then OSU athletic director Andy Geiger. O’Brien told Geiger that there was going to be a lawsuit filed that would negatively impact the men’s basketball program. O’Brien offered to resign that day.

Unknowledgeable about the pending lawsuit, Geiger told O’Brien not to resign and wait to see how the situation played itself out.

The lawsuit that O’Brien had mentioned to Geiger was filed by Kathleen Salyers. Salyers had worked as a nanny for an OSU Booster family, Kim and Dan Roslovic. The Roslovic’s had befriended and provided housing for OSU basketball player Slobodan “Boban” Savovic in exchange for perks (i.e. OSU Men’s Basketball tickets).

When the Roslovic’s separated and filed for divorce, they asked Salyers to house Savovic in exchange for money. When Salyers wasn’t compensated by the Roslovic’s, Salyers filed the lawsuit against the Roslovic’s, not the university; however, in the lawsuit, there were several accusations of OSU violations and misconduct. One of the biggest and most severe allegations to come from the suit was that O’Brien had loaned $6,000 to recruit Aleksandar Radojevic. O’Brien loaned the money to Radojevic to help him pay medical expenses for his ailing father.

Six weeks after O’Brien warned Geiger at the football scrimmage, the lawsuit was filed (June 2004). When the lawsuit became public and implicated ex-coach O’Brien, his coaching staff, and the university, Geiger acted very swiftly and fired O’Brien. The administration made pro-active decisions to protect the team from further sanctions, including a self-imposed post-season bid last year (2004-2005 season).

In November 2004, O’Brien filed suit against OSU for wrongful termination.

On Wednesday, Judge Joseph T. Clark sided with former OSU head coach Jim O’Brien on the wrongful termination suit. Judge Clark stated that O’Brien did wrongfully breach his contract by giving a $6,000 loan to a recruit, but stated that the offense alone did not merit termination. The Judge stated the University based the firing solely on the offense, and O’Brien’s coaching performance was not a factor in the decision.

O’Brien sued the university for $3.5 million in lost wages and benefits (with interest, the total would be 9.5 million).

The university publicly disagreed with the ruling.

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