NCAA Basketball: Northern Kentucky at Cincinnati

Cincinnati has placed basketball coach John Brannen on paid administrative leave pending a university review into the program, it announced on Saturday. The leave for Brannen, who just finished his second season coaching the Bearcats, is effective immediately and will last until the review is complete.

The school announced on March 26 that it was reviewing allegations related to the program along with independent fact-finders. Those allegations appear to be related to an article from The Athletic in which there is reportedly a rift between Brannen and some of his players, which has led to a mass exodus this offseason. During a one-week span in March, six UC players entered the transfer portal.

While it is not uncommon for programs to lose multiple players to the portal -- especially this season, with more than 1,000 players already exploring transfers -- this situation appears to be different. With all the outgoing players only four scholarship players are slated to return next season. The Athletic reports that it is believed that the review is being done as Cincinnati explores the potential of a for-cause firing of Brannen.

When Brannen was hired in 2019 to succeed Mick Cronin after his departure to UCLA, he was coming off a second NCAA Tournament appearance with Northern Kentucky and considered a strong fit because of his success leading the Norse. He led the Bearcats to a regular-season title in his first season, going 20-10, but they stumbled throughout 2020-2021, finishing 12-11.