Jim O’Brien (born in 1950)

Jim O’Brien (born April 9, 1950)

Teams coached: St. Bonaventure BonniesBoston College Eagles, Ohio State Buckeyes, Emerson Lions
St. Bonaventure record: 67-51 (.568)
Boston College record: 168-166 (.503)
Ohio State record: 51-57 (.472) **
Emerson record: 34-44 (.436)
Overall record^: 320-318 (.502) **

Career Accomplishments:


Coaching Career (head coach, unless noted):

2011-2014 Emerson
1997-2004 Ohio State
1986-1997 Boston College
1982-1986 St. Bonaventure
1977-1982 Connecticut (asst)

Jim O’Brien Facts

  • James J. O’Brien
  • Born April 9, 1950
  • Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
  • Alma Mater: Boston College (BA, 1971)
  • An honorable mention All-American at St. Francis Prep in Brooklyn, O’Brien went on to letter for three seasons at Boston College under head coaches Bob Cousy and Chuck Daly
    • Served as the Eagles’ team captain during his senior season, 1970-71
    • Played for a few years in the ABA, including one season with the Kentucky Colonels playing for head coach Joe Mullaney
  • Started his coaching career in 1977, spending five seasons as an assistant to Dom Perno at UConn
  • Became head coach at St. Bonaventure in 1982, leading them to a 67-51 record over four years, including an A-10 title in 1983
  • Returned to alma mater BC in 1986, coaching the Eagles for eleven seasons in the Big East
  • Left BC for Ohio State in 1997, spending seven years as the Buckeyes’ head coach
    • What appeared to be an incredibly successful tenure would end in controversy and NCAA sanctions
      • O’Brien’s teams went to the NCAA Tournament four years in a row, including a trip to the 1999 NCAA Final Four, and won two Big Ten titles
      • O’Brien got in trouble with the NCAA when he admitted to providing a one-time $6,000 loan to the mother of an Ohio State recruit from Serbia after he had signed a LOI, though he never played for the Buckeyes
        • The investigation found that another Buckeye player had been receiving impermissible benefits while competing for the school
        • The school was given three years’ probation, ordered to vacate all games in which the player appeared, dropping O’Brien’s overall record at OSU from 133-88 to 51-57
        • All four NCAA Tournament appearances (including the 1999 F4), two shared regular season titles and 2002 Tournament title were all stripped and the school was required to pay back postseason bonuses
    • O’Brien was fired by Ohio State in June 2004; the firing lead to a couple of lawsuits with the school, eventually resulting in a judge awarding $2.4 million to O’Brien and the NCAA later reducing the coach’s five-year “show-cause” penalty to just two years by throwing out three violations
  • Was free to coach again starting 1/31/08, but it was not until May 2011 when he took another collegiate head coaching job
    • Spent three years as the head coach at D-III Emerson College in Boston, going 34-44 (25-25) during that tenure
    • Retired from coaching in March 2014 following the Lions’ 2013-14 season

Jim O’Brien Coaching Tree

  • Paul Biancardi (Wright State)
  • Rick Boyages (William & Mary)
  • Tom Devitt (Hartford, Wentworth)
  • Eddie Jordan (Rutgers, Philadelphia 76ers, Washington Wizards, Sacramento Kings)
  • Dennis Wolff (Boston University)


^ overall record includes head coaching positions at both the NCAA Division I and Division III levels

** Listed records and accomplishments for this coach do not include wins or appearances later vacated by the NCAA