Cincinnati men's basketball coach John Brannen on leave amid investigation

Cincinnati men's basketball coach John Brannen on leave amid investigation

The University of Cincinnati on Saturday put men's basketball coach John Brannen on paid leave pending an evaluation following six Bearcats players made a decision to transfer last month.

The faculty announced March 26 that it had started an investigation amid reports that a rift between Brannen and players had contributed to the requested transfers. Among the six that entered the transport portal during a week in March were four members of this 2020 freshman course.

Brennan's attorney, Tom Mars, told ESPN in a statement that Cincinnati is mishandling its investigation.

"It's been my experience that collegiate ADs are experts at mishandling internal investigations, and this instance is no exception," Mars said. "You don't need to take my word for this. I am in possession of a communication from within the UC Athletics Department describing the mishandling of the internal evaluation in a great deal more descriptive conditions.

"There's no foundation for Coach Brannen to have been placed on administrative leave -- much less terminated for cause."

Mars added that Brannen would deserve his $5.25 million buyout if athletic director John Cunningham makes the decision to fire him, threatening a lawsuit if the school attempts to fire Brannen with trigger.

"I'm optimistic, however, that AD Cunningham will wrap up the analysis promptly and invisibly Coach Brannen so that he can continue the excellent job he has done for Cincinnati basketball," Mars said in his announcement.

The Bearcats ended 12-11 in Brannen's next season at Cincinnati following a 20-10 record in 2019-20. He previously coached in Northern Kentucky.