John Brannen's Attorney Denies Ex-Cincinnati HC Bribed Players to Not Raise Concerns

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVMay 4, 2021

HOUSTON, TX - MARCH 01: Cincinnati Bearcats head coach John Brannen checks out the scoreboard during first half play during the basketball game between the Cincinnati Bearcats and Houston Cougars at the Fertitta Center on March 1, 2020 in Houston, TX. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

An attorney for former Cincinnati men's basketball coach John Brannen denied Brannen bribed players not to come forward about compliance issues within the program.

"Coach Brannen paid $135 of his own money so one of his players could see a mental health professional during the pandemic," Tom Mars wrote Tuesday. "UC Athletics has no psychologist on staff, instead opting to outsource those services to a Kentucky clinical psychologist whose advertisements say that he sees patients about infertility, gender identity, amnesia and infidelity."

Tom Mars @TomMarsLaw

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The Cincinnati Enquirer's Keith Jenkins obtained the termination letter Cincinnati Director of Athletics sent to Brannen on April 9. Cunningham said Brannen "failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the men's basketball program with respect to rules, regulations and policies and have further jeopardized and/or disregarded the well-being, health and safety of student-athletes, despite written reprimand":

"Moreover, you have made, attempted, arranged or otherwise made payment for special benefits for a student-athlete other than through approved channels; intimidated and/or attempted to intimidate students from raising proper compliance concerns; as you have previously been notified, running one or more practices without proper precautions for player health and safety and repeatedly violated time management plan policies; and not been forthcoming with the University regarding your actions."

Cincinnati moved on from Brannen on April 9 following an investigation during which administrators spoke with players, coaches and staffers. The school had placed him on administrative leave, a step that came after six Bearcats players entered the transfer portal.

According to Jenkins, Brannen was also reprimanded last November after staging a practice that wasn't pre-approved by the team's training staff. The workout reportedly was so intense that one player required help to leave the court.

In a statement to the Enquirer, Mars countered that Brannen's firing was the culmination of "a pre-determined plan" to oust him without being on the hook for his $5 million buyout.

Brannen spent two years in charge at Cincinnati, with the Bearcats going 32-21. The university hired Wes Miller as his replacement on April 14.