The Athletic

Cincinnati, train coach John Brannen reach settlement on lawsuit over his firing

Former Cincinnati coach John Brannen and the university have “reached an amicable resolution,” the program announced Thursday. Brannen, who was fired in April 2021 after the school opened an investigation into allegations related to its men’s basketball program, had filed a lawsuit on his for-cause termination last spring.

“Both parties look forward to putting this matter behind them and focusing on the future,” the school said in a release.

A legal representative for Brannen declined comment to The Athletic on the announced settlement between Brannen and the university.

Cincinnati fired Brannen on April 9, 2021, one week after placing him on administrative leave. His tenure dissolved after a month-long saga following the 2020-21 regular season marked by a reported rift between Brannen and numerous players, and what the university described as a failure “to promote an atmosphere of compliance” and a disregard for “the well -being, health and safety of student-athletes.”

During Brannen’s two seasons with the Bearcats, seven players he recruited had left the program, and only two of seven players added before the 2020-21 season remained on the roster by the time of his firing. Even during the team’s run to the American Athletic Conference championship game in 2021, the issues within the program had been brewing all season, sources told The Athletic.

In May 2021, Brannen filed a federal lawsuit against the school, its president and athletic director in response to his termination. The suit alleged his termination was “nothing more than a smokescreen to avoid triggering a contractual buyout clause that would have cost the University millions of dollars.” By firing Brannen for cause, the school avoided paying a $5.25-million buyout stipulated in his contract.

Three months later, the university, UC president Neville Pinto, and UC athletic director John Cunningham filed a motion to dismiss Brannen’s claims in the lawsuit, in their entirety. That motion essentially meant the defendants believed Brannen’s claims were legally invalid.

Brannen withdrew the federal lawsuit in October 2021 and then filed a similar suit in the Ohio Court of Claims. In that second lawsuit, he dropped Pinto and Cunningham as defendants.

On Tuesday, the University of Dayton men’s basketball program announced it had hired Brannen as a program analyst and senior special assistant under head coach Anthony Grant. Brannen previously worked as an assistant under Grant at VCU and Alabama.

(Photo: Justin Casterline/Getty Images)


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