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Report: Cincinnati's John Brannen Suspended, External Review Underway

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 3, 2021

Cincinnati head coach John Brannen reacts during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Houston, Sunday, March 1, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)
Michael Wyke/Associated Press

The University of Cincinnati has reportedly suspended head men's basketball coach John Brannen amid an external review of the program.

According to Justin Williams of The Athletic on Saturday, the suspension will last until the review is over, and it is believed the review is exploring whether Brannen should be fired for cause.

Last week, the University of Cincinnati released a statement saying it would "commence a review of allegations related to its men's basketball program."

Cincinnati athletic director John Cunningham added"The University has always put the welfare of its student-athletes first. We feel this is an essential step to ensure that all of our athletic programs meet the highest standards."

Williams reported in mid-March there was a rift between Brannen and his players, which led to a "mass roster exodus" after the Bearcats' 2020-21 season ended. Six players have entered the transfer portal since the end of the season, and a total of seven players recruited by Brannen since 2019 have left the program.

It is unclear precisely what the outside firm is investigating, but Jeremy Rauch of Fox19 in Cincinnati reported Brannen and his staff have not violated any NCAA rules.

Brannen, who was the head coach at Northern Kentucky from 2015 to 2019 and led the Norse to a pair of NCAA tournaments, took the head job at Cincinnati in 2019 when Mick Cronin left to coach at UCLA.

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The Bearcats made nine consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament under Cronin before Brannen took over in 2019 and led Cincy to a 20-10 record. No NCAA tournament was held that year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cincinnati went just 12-11 this season and missed the tourney, but Brannen led it all the way to the AAC Championship Game where it lost to Houston, which has subsequently reached the Final Four of the NCAA tournament.

In the wake of the season, players have taken their issues with Brannen "directly to Cincinnati athletic director John Cunningham in recent days and weeks," per Williams.

Williams reported there is no timetable to complete the investigation and decide Brannen's fate.

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