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Terms of O'Brien's contract at heart of lawsuit

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Former Ohio State basketball coach Jim
O'Brien asked a court Wednesday to rule that the university
violated the terms of his contract when it fired him last year and
owes him $3.5 million.

"Awarding Coach O'Brien money may not be the popular thing to
do in Columbus, but it comports with the law and the deal
deliberately struck by the university," O'Brien's lawyer, Joseph
F. Murray, said in documents filed with the Ohio Court of Claims.
O'Brien is asking the court to rule in his favor without a trial.

O'Brien was fired in June after he acknowledged giving $6,000 to
a recruit in 1999. In December, Ohio State imposed a one-year
postseason tournament ban on the basketball program.

O'Brien has argued that the contract he signed after taking the
Buckeyes to the Final Four in 1999 allowed the university to fire
him without pay for only narrow circumstances. In this case, the
contract required that Ohio State could not fire him without pay
for alleged NCAA violations unless the NCAA started a major
infraction investigation and sanctioned the school, the documents
said.

O'Brien was fired before the NCAA opened a major infraction
investigation, the documents said.

Ohio State athletic spokesman Steve Snapp declined to comment
Wednesday. When O'Brien sued in November, the university said it
"operated well within its authority" in firing O'Brien.

O'Brien's firing came with five years left on his annual
$864,000 contract.