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Ohio State

NCAA pares penalty for ex-Buckeye O'Brien

Jim-O-Brien

Former Ohio State men's basketball coach Jim O'Brien.

Kiichiro Sato / AP Enlarge

COLUMBUS - The NCAA yesterday reduced from five to two years a penalty period against former Ohio State men's basketball coach Jim O'Brien that limits his ability to seek athletic employment at an NCAA college.

The reduction follows the NCAA's decision last month to throw out violations that included accusations O'Brien improperly gave $6,000 to a recruit.

The group dismissed three violations and part of a fourth because NCAA enforcement staff missed by two days a 2005 deadline for filing the charges.

The NCAA's appeals committee upheld other violations involving O'Brien, including improper benefits awarded to Boban Savovic, a member of the Buckeyes' Final Four team in 1999.

Ohio State has said his firing in 2004 after he revealed the loan to recruit Aleksandar Radojevic was valid because O'Brien violated his contract.

O'Brien still could seek work as a university basketball coach during the penalty period, which lasts until May 8, 2009.

But he would first have to appear before the NCAA's infractions committee, which set the penalty, to allow it "to consider whether the coach's athletically related duties should be limited," an NCAA statement said.

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