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Tarnished ex-Ohio State coach Jim O’Brien returns to the bench

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Unable to find a Division I school willing to take a chance on him after his controversial dismissal from Ohio State left him with a tarnished reputation, Jim O'Brien has found a new way to get back into the business.

O'Brien accepted a job on Tuesday as Division III Emerson College's new basketball coach.

"Emerson is a great school and seems like a great fit for me at this time in my life," O'Brien said in a statement. "It affords my wife and I an opportunity to continue to live in Boston, a city that we love, while allowing me to focus on what I enjoy most: being in a gym and coaching a team."

O'Brien's return to college basketball comes seven years after he revealed to Ohio State administrators that he'd sent a check for $6,000 in 1998 to a Yugoslavian recruit's mother who was trying to support a family in a country ravaged by civil war. Alex Radojevic never played college basketball, yet Ohio State was placed on probation and had its 1999 Final Four appearance vacated.

Though O'Brien was fired by Ohio State, he later received more than $2 million in salary from the school in a wrongful termination lawsuit. His coaching career had been in hiatus until the Emerson offer, though he had spent time in the past year mentoring public high school coaches in Boston.

The new gig certainly isn't as high-profile as O'Brien's former head coaching jobs at St. Bonaventure, his alma mater Boston College or Ohio State, but at least he appears to have a supportive administration.

"We are extremely excited to have attracted someone with Jim's talent and experience to Emerson," Emerson athletic director Kristin Parnell said. "He will help the basketball program build on its many past successes."

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