OBrien Fired For Recruiting Violations
Ohio State men's basketball coach Jim O'Brien was fired today for what athletic director Andy Geiger called "serious" recruiting violations.
Geiger said that O'Brien was given an option of resigning and he chose not to.
"Jim O'Brien has been terminated for cause effective immediately," Geiger said. "I have consulted with (university) President (Karen) Holbrook and she concurs with this difficult decision."
The termination stemmed from a $6,000 gift O'Brien admitted to Geiger that the OSU head coach gave to prospective recruit Aleks Radojevic nearly five years ago. O'Brien gave the money to the prospective recruit to send home to Yugoslavia at a time when Radojevic's father had died and he was unable to fly home for the funeral.
"In reviewing the NCAA precedents in this type of case, by giving (the prospective recruit) money, Coach O'Brien had violated significant NCAA rules," Geiger said. "Therefore, we feel this is merited. We feel this is very serious."
Radojevic was ruled ineligible to play for Ohio State because he had taken money to play in his native Yugoslavia. However, Radojevic did sign a letter of intent to play for the Buckeyes, bringing him under the umbrella of the NCAA and creating the problem for O'Brien.
Also a part of the termination stems from a lawsuit pending in Franklin County (Ohio) Common Pleas Court. The suit involves former OSU player Boban Savovic but reportedly does not involve the university. The suit involves housing, meals and clothing that a women named Kathleen Salyers provided for Savovic.
As a result of the gift to Radojevic and the lawsuit, the NCAA currently in investigating the OSU men's basketball program.
"There is no definite timetable for the investigation," Geiger said. "We will cooperate fully with investigation. We will not speculate on when the investigation will be completed and we will not speculate on possible sanctions."
Geiger said a search committee, including one current OSU player, will be formed to find O'Brien's successor. Assistant coach Rick Boyages was named interim coach.
(BuckeyeSports.com will have more on this story later today.)