Men's Basketball

Ole Miss's Kennedy arrested, will coach tonight

CINCINNATI — Police arrested Mississippi men's basketball coach Andy Kennedy early Thursday after a cab driver said the coach punched him and shouted racial slurs.

A pretrial hearing has been set for Jan. 16.

Kennedy's lawyer, Mike Allen, entered a written plea of not guilty in Hamilton County Municipal Court on Thursday.

Kennedy, a former assistant and interim head coach at Cincinnati, will coach the Rebels when they play No. 9 Louisville in the SEC/Big East Invitational later Thursday.

"I regret this situation," Kennedy said in a statement released by Ole Miss. "The focus should be on the players and the game, not on me. I vehemently deny the charges levied against me, and am completely confident that I will be fully exonerated of all charges."

The complaint filed in Municipal Court alleges that Kennedy assaulted Mohammed Ould Jiddou and "punched victim with a closed fist while shouting racial slurs." Kennedy was arrested at 1:15 a.m., police documents show. Police also arrested Bill Armstrong, director of operations for the basketball team.

Jiddou, a 25-year-old native of the northwest Africa country of Mauritania, replied: "Good" when asked how we was doing Thursday afternoon. But he declined to answer any other questions when reached at his home in northern Kentucky.

Rusty O'Brien, a Louisville, Ky., attorney, said Jiddou told him Kennedy called him "Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein." He said Kennedy became upset when the driver refused to allow five passengers into his taxi.

O'Brien said Jiddou is a legal permanent resident of the United States and has been in the country for several years. He planned to meet Thursday with Jiddou to discuss the case.

Ole Miss Athletic Director Pete Boone said Kennedy's entire coaching staff witnessed the altercation.

"Clearly, this is an unfortunate situation," said Boone, who is in Cincinnati. "However, after a full discussion with Andy Kennedy and his staff, who were with him, I have the utmost confidence that once all the facts are known, coach Kennedy will be cleared of all charges."