CINCINNATI — Former University of Cincinnati men’s basketball coach John Brannen filed a lawsuit against the school, UC director of athletics John Cunningham and university president Neville Pinto.
Brannen, who coached Northern Kentucky University's men's basketball program to two Horizon League titles, was hired to coach the Bearcats in 2019.
According to court documents, Brannen’s attorneys claim his suspension and termination were a result of a "sham" investigation and the university did so to trigger a contractual buyout clause that would have cost the school millions of dollars.
The lawsuit said Cunningham had a law firm with close ties to the university develop reasons to fire Brannen "for cause," thereby saving the university more than $5 million.
The documents said Brannen’s contract was missing language that would have paid him his potential buyout compensation in monthly installments, and that the remainder of the money he was owed under contract would have been due to him no later than 60 days following his termination.
The lawsuit accuses Cunningham of ignoring Brannen’s contractual rights and used the reprimand issued due to an Oct. 6, 2020 practice to fire him for "just cause" as outlined in his termination letter.
Brannen is seeking a name-clearing opportunity including an opportunity to cross-examine and hear testimony of Cunningham and other witnesses.
He also seeks to be awarded compensatory and punitive damages as determined at trial.
WCPO reached out to UC for comment Friday evening and will update this story.