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Former D1 Coach To Head Men's Basketball

by Beacon Staff • June 3, 2011

Beacon Staff

Jim O’Brien, a long-time Division 1 mainstay who led Ohio State University to a Final Four appearance in 1999, has been hired as head coach of the Emerson College men’s basketball team, school officials announced on May 17. 

O’Brien, who coached at both Boston College and most recently at Ohio State, is the fourth head coach the Lions have had in the past year.

Two of the coaches, Stan Nance, Emerson’s associate athletics director, and Lynn Ramage, a former Division 2 coach, served on an interim basis.

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

It will be O’Brien’ first gig since he was fired from Ohio State in 2004 for alleged recruiting violations including paying $6,000 to a foreign athlete who never attended the school, the Boston Globe reported. He was temporarily banned by the NCAA, but was reinstated in 2008 and was awarded $2.4 million after he sued the school for breach of contract.

O’Brien said he is happy to be back in Boston.

"I am excited to be the next men's basketball coach at Emerson College," O'Brien said via a press release from the school. "During the past few years, I have become familiar with Emerson while watching other friends coach in the GNAC. Emerson is a great school and seems like a great fit for me at this time in my life. 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 is taking over a program that finished 10-16 during a season filled with controversy that began when 16-year veteran Hank Smith vacated his post as head coach midway through the season. The college initially said Smith left on his own accord, but William Gilligan, the vice president of information technology, later told the Beacon that he had made the decision to no longer have Smith as the head coach.

In Smith’s absence, both Stan Nance, the associate director of athletics, and Lynn Ramage, a former Division 2 coach finished the season for the Lions.