Brannen introduced as Bearcats’ head coach

April 16, 2019

CINCINNATI — University of Cincinnati’s new men’s basketball head coach, former Marshall Thundering Herd player John Brannen, was introduced Monday at Fifth Third Arena.

Brannen, the 1997 Southern Conference Player of the Year, guided Northern Kentucky University to the 2017 and 2019 NCAA Tournaments as well as the 2018 National Invitation Tournament.

The Norse went 81-51 in his four seasons, winning two Horizon League regular-season titles and a pair of conference tournament championships.

He replaces Mick Cronin, who left Cincinnati for the UCLA job. Cronin compiled a 296-147 record in 13 seasons, guiding the Bearcats to nine consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances (2011-2019), two American Athletic Conference regular-season championships (2014, 2018) and two AAC tournament championships (2018, 2019).

He was named the 2018 Sporting News Coach of the Year and 2014 AAC Coach of the Year.

At the podium for the first time for his introductory press conference, Brannen opened his comments by simply stating, “Humbled, honored and energized.”

“I am humbled to be your head coach,” he said.

“Two national titles, six Final Fours, eight Elite Eights, 31 All-Americans, and 57 NBA draft picks and counting. That will humble any coach, the tremendous success they’ve had here. Our goal is to continue Final Fours and national championships. That’s the understanding and that’s what we will push forward to each and every day.”

“We will divorce ourselves from outcomes and live in the process. We’ll do it together and it will be fun. We’ll be competitive and we will be a group of young men that you will be honored to call Cincinnati’s team.

“This basketball program has been branded in toughness since the day I grew up. That will not go away; that will continue. The secret sauce is the sacrifice. Good teams become great teams when members trust each other enough to forsake the ‘me’ for the ‘we’. That’s a Phil Jackson quote. It’s something we’ll talk about greatly. Our goal is to build upon the tradition.”

NKU reclassified to NCAA Division I for the 2016-17 season and no other school in the nation has enjoyed the same amount of success in its first three years, a Cincinnati release (www.gobearcats.com) said.

His coaching career spans 20 seasons with an 82-52 career record as head coach. He had a 1-1 record as the University of Alabama interim coach at the end of 2014-15. He was part of the Alabama staff for six seasons (2010-15).

He made other stops as an assistant coach at VCU (2007-09), St. Bonaventure University (2004-06), Eastern Kentucky University (2001-03) and University of Charleston (2000).

A native of nearby Alexandria, Kentucky, Brannen attended Newport Central Catholic High School. He began his playing career at Morehead State University before transferring to Marshall for his final two seasons, playing for head coaches Billy Donovan (1996) and Greg White (1997). He scored 1,008 points in two seasons with the Herd. A Rhodes Scholar finalist, Brannen received post-graduate scholarships from both the NCAA and Southern Conference.

He earned a degree in business management from Marshall in 1997 and played two seasons of professional basketball in Belgium’s First Division before beginning his coaching career.

Brannen and his wife Lisa live in northern Kentucky and are the parents of twin daughters, Jaylee and Katelyn.