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Report: Former Cincinnati HC John Brannen Files Federal Lawsuit Against School

Blake SchusterContributor IMay 21, 2021

CINCINNATI, OH - FEBRUARY 19: Head coach John Brannen of the Cincinnati Bearcats is seen during the game against the UCF Knights at Fifth Third Arena on February 19, 2020 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Former Cincinnati Bearcats head coach John Brannen filed a federal lawsuit against the university, athletic director John Cunningham and school president Neville Pinto, according to Justin Williams of The Athletic. 

Justin Williams @Williams_Justin

According to the lawsuit, #Bearcats athletic director John Cunningham has been sued in both his official and individual capacity.

Williams noted the move was expected following Brennan's ousting in April after just two seasons. 

The exact nature of the complaint was not immediately available.

Cunningham announced an internal investigation into the program following the entrance of six Bearcats players into the transfer portal at the end of the season. 

"The University has always put the welfare of its student-athletes first," Cunningham said in announcing the investigation. "We feel this is an essential step to ensure that all of our athletic programs meet the highest standards." 

When Cunningham announced Brannen's suspension April 3, he explained the athletic department spoke with "student-athletes, coaches and staff, as well as with Coach Brannen" before reaching a decision but would not go into any of the allegations, findings or details uncovered. 

Per Williams:

"Details of the allegations against Brannen, the scope of the external review and/or any prior internal investigations by the university remain unknown at this time, although sources saidthey believe the external review to be a multifaceted, layered examination encompassing Brannen’s two seasons as coach of the Bearcats."

The AD called the entire situation a "personnel matter." Brannen was eventually fired April 9.

Wes Miller was hired as Brannen's replacement on April 14.

Now, Brannen will have an opportunity to plead his case on the record in front of a federal judge. 

After Brannen was placed on suspension pending the outcome of the investigation, the coach retained attorney Tom Mars, who quickly cast doubt on Cunningham's ability to conduct a thorough examination of the program. 

“It’s been my experience that collegiate ADs are experts at mishandling internal investigations, and this case is no exception,” Mars told The Athletic in April. “I’m in possession of a document that John Cunningham hasn’t seen. I haven’t decided when to share it with UC’s outside lawyers. But whenever John Cunningham does see it, I expect he’ll have a change of heart about the direction he’s been going and his decision to place Coach Brannen on administrative leave."

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