Former University of Cincinnati men’s basketball head coach John Brannen, who was fired in April, has dropped his federal lawsuit against the school and refiled in state court.
As reported by WXIX in Cincinnati, Brannen originally sued in federal court in May seeking compensatory and punitive damages as well as more than $5 million in buyout money he claimed he was due. At the time, he named as defendants the university, president Neville Pinto and director of athletics John Cunningham.
His attorney filed the voluntary dismissal motion on Oct. 1. The same day, Brannen filed a similar suit in the Ohio Court of Claims. The named defendants are the university, the State of Ohio and Ohio attorney general Dave Yost.
Ohio law prevents plaintiffs from pursuing separate cases arising from the same facts in separate jurisdictions, meaning Brannen had to withdraw the federal suit in order to file the state suit, according to WXIX.
Under Brannen's guidance, the Bearcats went 32-21 over two seasons. Cincinnati finished 12-11 last season after losing the American Athletic Conference championship game following a surprising tournament run and failed to advance to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2010. Within two days of the AAC tournament, six UC players entered the transfer portal.
Before he was terminated, Brannen was placed on paid administrative leave as the university’s investigated allegations against the coaching staff, including strenuous practices.
In addition, Brannen was personally accused of using his credit card to pay for a $135 counseling session for one of his players, a potential NCAA violation.
The suit claims Brannen’s suspension and termination were the “result of a sham ‘investigation’ that was unfair, unreliable and inherently flawed and nothing more than a smokescreen to avoid triggering a contractual buyout clause that would have cost the University millions of dollars.”
According to the complaint, Cunningham had already decided to fire Brannen “for cause” when he announced the internal investigation, which Brannen claims to have only heard about through media reports.