UM’s Kennedy keeps job after guilty plea


OXFORD — Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone said through a news release today that men’s basketball coach Andy Kennedy will keep his job despite pleading guilty this morning to disorderly conduct stemming from an alleged assault in Cincinnati on Dec. 18.

Kennedy was sentenced to six months probation, a $100 fine and 40 hours of community service in Hamilton County Municipal Court.

The third-year Ole Miss coach also apologized “for any role that I may have played in this unfortunate situation.”

Kennedy, 41, was charged with first-degree misdemeanor assault in the early-morning hours of Dec. 18. Cab driver Mohamed Moctar Jiddou, 25, said the coach punched him and called him “bin Laden” and other ethnic slurs.

Kennedy will keep his job, but in the statement Boone said the coach’s contract will not be extended an extra year as has been customary for good on-the-court performance in the past.

Ole Miss finished 16-15 last season, including 7-9 in the Southeastern Conference, despite suffering three season-ending injuries to prominent players.

“Coach Kennedy’s on-the-court performance this season warranted a contract extension,” Boone said in the statement. “Nevertheless, coach Kennedy knows that any conduct that is detrimental to the image of Ole Miss is unacceptable. Therefore, coach Kennedy and I have mutually agreed that an extension will not be consummated at this time.

“Adversity brings opportunity. Coach Kennedy and our program will emerge from this stronger. We look forward to next season.”

Kennedy also had a response in the statement, thanking Boone and chancellor Robert Khayat for their support.

“I acknowledge using poor judgment which resulted in an adverse reflection on me, my family, our program and the university that I so proudly represent,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy is in the first year of a four-year contract that pays him roughly $800,000 annually, with unspecified performance bonuses.

Meanwhile, an attorney for Kennedy says that the coach “vehemently denies” that he struck or used ethnic slurs against Jiddou.

Kennedy pleaded guilty to a “verbal altercation which escalated into an” incident that didn’t involve slurs or violence, Mike Allen added. “He did not strike Mr. Jiddou,” Allen said.

After Kennedy’s arrest, Boone initially said he was confident that Kennedy would be cleared of all charges.

Even with the criminal charges settled, Kennedy still could face a civil trial. Kennedy filed a defamation suit against Jiddou, and a witness, shortly after his arrest. Those two then countersued Kennedy.

Bill Posey, a Cincinnati-based attorney who is representing Kennedy in the civil suit, said Monday’s criminal plea had little to no bearing on the civil case.

“From a civil suit perspective, this plea gives me no heartburn,” Posey said. “Any citizen has the right to bring charges and go to trial. What we’re concerned about are the comments made to the media outside of the courtroom that we believe to be defamatory.”

Posey said the civil suit could take up to 18 months to settle.

Also on Monday, UM assistant coach Bill Armstrong, 31, pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and paid a $100 fine and $94 in court costs. Armstrong and three other Ole Miss assistants — Michael White, Torrey Ward and Owen Miller — were with Kennedy when he was arrested after leaving The Lodge Bar in downtown Cincinnati.

In Kennedy’s arrest tape, Armstrong could be heard in the background arguing with the cab driver and police. Also in the arrest tape, Kennedy could be heard trying to talk police out of arresting him.

“Sir, you don’t understand what this is going to do nationally,” Kennedy said to the officer. “I’m the head coach of Ole Miss.”


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