April 9 (UPI) -- The University of Cincinnati has fired head coach John Brannen after an investigation into the men's basketball program, the school announced Friday.
Cincinnati athletic director John Cunningham announced the decision in a letter to the team's supporters.
"The decision to move in a new direction comes after a thorough review of our program, which included conversations with student-athletes, coaches and staff, as well as with coach Brannen," Cunningham said.
"Ultimately, the university is acting in the best interests of our student-athletes and of the institution, and this decision is reflective of our commitment to both, as well as to our values that we hold dear. As this is a personnel matter, we are unable to provide further details of the program review or the decision.
"We will work quickly but judiciously in finding a new head coach. With a passionate fan base, strong tradition and history, elite facilities, and a collective commitment to success, we are confident that we will have a deep pool of candidates. We will continue to engage with and support our student-athletes during this transition."
The Bearcats finished with a 12-11 overall record this past season, losing in the American Athletic Conference tournament title game. In the first three days after its season ended, six Cincinnati players entered the transfer portal: Gabe Madsen; Mike Saunders; Zach Harvey; Mamoudou Diarra; Mason Madsen; and Tari Eason.
The university announced March 26 that it launched an investigation into its men's basketball program after the mass exodus, as well as reports that Brannen's treatment of the players sparked the transfers.
The school placed Brannen on paid leave earlier this month.
Brannen later posted a statement on social media and said he was disappointed in the school's decision.
"Today I was notified that I have been relieved of my duties as the head basketball coach at the University of Cincinnati," Brannen said. "The last three weeks have been an emotional roller coaster for my family, our staff and our players.
"I am disappointed with this decision for a long list of reasons, but mostly because it was made before the university even commenced its 'investigation' into the basketball program. I look forward to the opportunity to bring the true facts to light."
Former Indiana coach Archie Miller and South Carolina's Frank Martin have been linked to the Cincinnati head-coaching vacancy.