Jim O'Brien (no, not this Jim O'Brien), the former Boston College basketball player and coach, has been hired by Emerson as the school's mens basketball coach following longtime coach Hank Smith's resignation.
‘‘We are extremely excited to have attracted someone with Jim's talents and experience to Emerson,'' said athletic director Kristin Parnell. ‘‘He will help the basketball team build on its many past successes.''
‘‘The more I thought about it, the more I thought it was something I wanted to do,'' said O'Brien. ‘‘But if I got back into coaching, I wanted to stay in Boston. It fits into what I want to do in my life right now.'' (via Boston Globe)
O'Brien, a 1976 inductee of the Boston College Varsity Club Athletic Hall, graduated in 1971 after playing for the Eagles' basketball team. O'Brien set the school record for assists in a single game (18) against LeMoyne and finished his three-year playing career with 1,273 points while averaging 16.5 points per game.
In 1986, O'Brien took the head coaching job at Boston College, where he would coach for 11 years. O'Brien guided BC to 168 wins, as well as three NCAA Tournament and three NIT appearances.
In 1994, O'Brien led the Eagles on a thrilling run that took them to the Elite Eight. In 1997, his final season at BC, O'Brien led the Eagles to its first Big East Tournament championship.
O'Brien proceeded to take the head coaching job at Ohio State the next season, where he coached until 2004. He led the Buckeyes to 132 wins and four NCAA Tournament berths, including an appearance in the Final Four in 1998-99, in seven seasons.
While a talented player and coach, O'Brien's career has been marred by scandal. He was nearly forced to resign in his final season at BC after some of his recruits were denied admission, and ultimately sued BC for slander and breach of contract.
At Ohio State, O'Brien was fired on June 8, 2004 following the payment of a $6,000 loan to the mother of a Yugoslavian recruit, Alex Radojevic, in September of 1998 that he failed to report to the school.
Another Buckeyes player, Boban Savovic, received improper benefits and committed academic fraud during his time at Ohio State (1999-2002), which ultimately led to NCAA sanctions that included a one-year ban from coaching for O'Brien.
Following his termination from Ohio State, O'Brien sued the school for breach of contract and won $2.4 million.
‘‘It bothered me a lot,'' said O'Brien. ‘‘In 27 years in this profession, there was never one second of an issue with the NCAA about how we ran the program. And then all of a sudden this is how you get labeled. There was damage, and it really bothered me a lot.'' (via Boston Globe)
O'Brien's coaching ban kept him away from the benches for the entire 2006 season, and he did not return to the sidelines after that until accepting his new position at Emerson.