Holbrook said the university had a right to terminate O'Brien's contract because one of the school's regulations for coaches is to know and comply with NCAA bylaws.
O'Brien disputes that he told former athletic director Andy Geiger that he violated an NCAA rule. He is suing in the Ohio Court of Claims for $3.5 million in back pay and benefits for what he says was an improper dismissal in June 2004. The judgment could grow by millions if interest and other damages are awarded.
A provision of O'Brien's contract said the NCAA had to rule on alleged violations before he could be fired for that reason. But Holbrook said there was still justification for the dismissal without such a ruling.