Men's Basketball

Cincinnati hires Kentuckian Brannen away from nearby Northern Kentucky

John Brannen celebrated after Northern Kentucky’s 77-66 win against Wright State in the Horizon League championship game in Detroit on March 12.
John Brannen celebrated after Northern Kentucky’s 77-66 win against Wright State in the Horizon League championship game in Detroit on March 12. AP

The University of Cincinnati announced Sunday afternoon that it has hired John Brannen to be its next men’s basketball coach.

Brannen, who had led Northern Kentucky’s program since the 2015-16 season, will be formally introduced as coach at 10 a.m. Monday in Fifth Third Arena in Cincinnati.

“It’s truly an honor to take over such a storied program at the University of Cincinnati,” Brannen said, according to a statement released by the school. “The Cincinnati-northern Kentucky community is special to my family and we are happy to remain at home.”

The Norse, since earning full Division I status prior to the 2016-17 season, were 72-30 with NCAA Tournament appearances in 2017 and 2019. NKU won back-to-back Horizon League regular-season championships in 2018 and 2019. Brannen was named the 2017 Horizon League Coach of the Year.

“He has a proven record as a head coach, longtime ties to the local community and coaches an exciting style of basketball,” Cincinnati Athletics Director Mike Bohn said. “We were impressed with his passion, drive, determination and basketball acumen during the interview process where he truly emerged as the best coach to lead the Cincinnati basketball program with a bright future.”

Brannen, who starred in high school at Newport Central Catholic, went on to play first at Morehead State and then at Marshall. He was named the Southern Conference Player of the Year as a senior in 1997 after averaging 20.9 points. He scored 1,008 points in two seasons with the Thundering Herd.

Brannen’s previous assistant coaching stops have included Charleston, Eastern Kentucky, St. Bonaventure, VCU and Alabama.

After Sunday’s announcement, Northern Kentucky released a statement that said “a national search for the sixth head coach in Northern Kentucky history will begin immediately.”

“We are grateful for what he has done to build the Norse men’s basketball brand into a premier program in the Horizon League …,” NKU President Ashish Vaidya said of Brannen. “Norse men’s basketball is positioned to continue its remarkable success … .”

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