Former University of Kentucky basketball player Winston Bennett of Louisville was fired Oct. 12 from his $73,500-a-year job in the Kentucky Labor Cabinet after being on the job for only 2 1/2 months.
State officials have not said why Bennett was fired and the former Cleveland Cavalier did not return repeated phone calls and emails from the Herald-Leader seeking comment.
Bennett, 52, started working in the Labor Cabinet as a director in the apprenticeship division on Aug. 1 after Gov. Matt Bevin approved Labor Secretary Derrick Ramsey’s request to hire Bennett. The governor must sign off on all non-merit hires in managerial positions.
References on Bennett’s application included former UK coach Joe B. Hall and former University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino.
According to state records obtained by the Herald-Leader under the Open Records Act, Bennett was notified on the morning of Oct. 12 that his services as a division director “are no longer needed.”
His termination letter said the action was being taken without cause, prohibiting him from appealing it to the Kentucky Personnel Board. He still had the right to file a discrimination claim with the Personnel Board within 30 days of his dismissal, but a board spokesman said Friday he did not file a claim.
The newspaper’s review of Bennett’s personnel file during his tenure at the Labor Cabinet did not reveal the reason he was fired
J. Brooken Smith, chief of staff for Labor Secretary Ramsey, said the cabinet could not comment on Bennett’s dismissal.
Michael G. Swansburg Jr., general counsel for the Labor Cabinet., said no grievances against Bennett were filed with the cabinet’s human resources or equal employment opportunity officers.
Bennett also has been a basketball coach at Kentucky State University in Frankfort and the former Mid-Continent University in Mayfield. The 1983 Kentucky “Mr. Basketball” played at UK from 1983 to 1988.