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Lavin willing to listen to Ohio State about coaching job

| Tuesday, July 6, 2004

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Former UCLA coach and current ESPN college basketball analyst Steve Lavin would love to talk to someone about the vacant Ohio State coaching job when he returns stateside.

"It's one of those jobs that are just strong across the board," Lavin said Monday from Mykonos, Greece, where he has been coaching the U.S. under-19 basketball team.

Lavin, 39, had a 145-78 record in seven seasons at UCLA. He took the Bruins to the round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament five times. UCLA sagged to 10-19 -- the school's first losing season in 55 years -- and was fired after the 2002-2003 season.

Born in California, Lavin spent three years as an assistant to Purdue coach Gene Keady before joining the staff at UCLA.

In the first year of his three-year contract with ESPN, he covered many Big Ten games during the 2003-2004 season.

"My start in coaching began in the Big Ten," Lavin said. "That's the irony. It's come full circle, that now I'm covering the conference as a broadcaster. It's sort of completing the loop."

Lavin has spent the last month traveling throughout Europe, coaching the U.S. team to a second-place finish in the international under-19 tournament. He has been in France, Italy and Greece and said he had not been contacted by anyone from Ohio State.

Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger fired coach Jim O'Brien on June 8 after O'Brien admitted he had given $6,000 to recruit Aleksandar Radojevic in 1999.

NCAA and Ohio State investigators also are looking into allegations that another Buckeyes player, Boban Savovic, had his grades changed and received thousands of dollars from the family he stayed with in Columbus. It is believed that the investigators are probing ties between O'Brien, assistant coach Paul Biancardi (now the head coach at Wright State) and player-agent Marc Cornstein.

Regardless of the problems with the program, Lavin said he would be interested in the job.

"I'm really enjoying my work with ESPN, but naturally there are certain jobs that would deserve consideration for a return to coaching," Lavin said.

He said there were many positives about the position.

"It's just a natural," he said. "It has the elements that go into making a successful program. It's got the tradition, it's got the recruiting base, it's got the resources, the facilities, the fund-raising, and the academics."

Lavin left Purdue to serve as an assistant coach under Jim Harrick at UCLA. He was entering his sixth year on the Bruins staff -- and his second as a full-time assistant and first as recruiting coordinator -- when Harrick was dismissed amid allegations of numerous NCAA violations.

The son of a legendary high school coach in California, Lavin was selected as UCLA's interim coach at the age of 32. Late in the following season, with UCLA at 13-7 and tied for first place in the Pac-10, the "interim" tag was dropped from his job title.

His first three Bruins teams went 24-8, 24-9 and 22-8.

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