COLUMBUS, Ohio, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- A judge ruled Wednesday that Ohio State University wrongly fired basketball coach Jim O'Brien for giving $6,000 to a potential recruit's mother.
Ohio Court of Claims Judge Joseph Clark ruled that O'Brien did breach his contract. However, O'Brien's "single, isolated failure of performance" was not serious enough to fire him without any compensation, the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch reported of the judge's ruling.
The ruling clears the way for a trial to determine damages O'Brien should receive for his June 2004 firing. O'Brien's original suit sought $9.5 million.
During a December trial, O'Brien argued loaning $6,000 in 1998 to the mother of Yugoslavian prospect Aleksandar Radojevic did not violate NCAA rules because he knew Radojevic was a professional athlete.
Ohio State's William Porter said O'Brien knew the fundamental rule and "chose to ignore it." He argued O'Brien's "unambiguous" contract allowed the school to fire him from the post he held since 1997.
The NCAA is expected to rule on the issue next month, the newspaper reported.