Ohio State fired men's basketball coach Jim O'Brien yesterday because the coach admitted paying a recruit $6,000 in violation of NCAA rules, the school announced.

The school could face sanctions as a result of its ongoing joint investigation with the NCAA. Ohio State Athletic Director Andy Geiger called the violations "severe" and said he was troubled to learn about the violation from O'Brien five years after it occurred.

The recruit, Yugoslavian Aleksandar Radojevic, later was ruled ineligible because he was paid to play overseas. O'Brien said in a statement that he "was asked and tried to give assistance to a young man's family who was in dire financial straits. The assistance in no way influenced the young man in his decision to attend OSU and, indeed, the young man did not enroll at OSU."

James Zeszutek, O'Brien's attorney, told ESPN.com that O'Brien likely will contest his dismissal. O'Brien, 133-88 in seven seasons at Ohio State, led the Buckeyes to the 1999 Final Four. Associate head coach Rick Boyages was named interim coach, but the school is expected to court high-profile names, perhaps even Texas Tech's Bob Knight, an Ohio State alum.

-- Eric Prisbell