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Cincinnati fires hoops coach John Brannen following investigation

Dec 12, 2020; Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats head coach John Brannen reacts during the first half against the Tennessee Volunteers at Thompson-Boling Arena. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati fired men’s basketball coach John Brannen on Friday, less than a week after putting him on paid leave amid an investigation.

“The decision to move in a new direction comes after a thorough review of our program, which included conversations with student-athletes, coaches and staff, as well as with Coach Brannen,” athletic director John Cunningham wrote in a letter to fans.

“Ultimately, the University is acting in the best interests of our student-athletes and of the institution, and this decision is reflective of our commitment to both, as well as to our values that we hold dear. As this is a personnel matter, we are unable to provide further details of the program review or the decision.”

At least six players have announced their intention to transfer since the end of the 2020-21 season.

The school hasn’t disclosed specifics about why Brannen was placed on leave. But last Saturday, the school said it was looking into “allegations related to its men’s basketball program.”

The Athletic reported that there was unrest between several players and Brannen.

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Cincinnati said assistant coach Tim Morris will serve as interim head coach as it conducts a nationwide search for a permanent coach. How much the Bearcats program can pay for a new coach will depend on whether Cincinnati will pay a buyout to Brannen or if he has been fired for cause.

Brannen, 47, led the Bearcats to a 12-11 record in 2020-21, a season that saw several players opt out and several games canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The season ended with a 91-54 loss to Houston in the American Athletic Conference tournament final on March 14.

Brannen guided Cincinnati to a 20-10 record in his first season with the program in 2019-20, finishing tied for first in the AAC with a 13-5 record.

Brannen coached for four seasons at Northern Kentucky before being hired to replace Mick Cronin, now the head coach at UCLA.

–Field Level Media