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Monday, June 8, 2009

Basketball Coach Talks Nonsense About Assault Case

University of Mississippi basketball coach Andy Kennedy can't seem to keep from stepping in doo-doo when it comes to Cincinnati, an ill-fated cab ride, and an assault case that became national news.

The latest chapter in the saga came when Kennedy decided to talk trash about cab driver Mohamed Jiddou, who claimed that Kennedy assaulted him and used racial slurs last December in Cincinnati. Kennedy's comments are so nutty that it appears he has learned nothing constructive from the experience. And it makes you wonder if Ole Miss officials should review their decision to let Kennedy keep his job.

Given that Kennedy recently pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct, and several civil actions are pending, you would think the coach would either shut up about the case--or at least act a little contrite. But you would be wrong.

Kennedy was asked about the case at last week's Southeastern Conference spring meeting. Instead of politely changing the subject, or saying he regretted the entire event, Kennedy decided to talk a little smack about Jiddou and eye witness Michael Strother. Reports The Birmingham News:

"I've come to realize there are a lot of people out there who don't want to work for a living," Kennedy said last week at the SEC spring meetings, referring to his accusers. "They want to continue that lifestyle of not working, so I have to be really cognizant of that."

How wacky is this comment? Let us count the ways:

* At the time the incident occurred, around 1 a.m., Jiddou and Strother were working, as a cab driver and a valet, respectively. Two guys who were working at 1 a.m. don't sound like slackers to me.

* Kennedy seems to be saying that Jiddou and Strother are out to make big bucks from lawsuits, so much that they won't have to work in the future. First of all, any lawsuit from a case such as this is unlikely to generate the kind of money that would put Jiddou and Strother on easy street. Second, who took the case into the civil arena? Answer: Kennedy did. All Jiddou did was file a criminal complaint, with Strother supporting his story. I know from firsthand experience that filing a criminal complaint is not a moneymaking proposition. It was Kennedy who opened fire in the civil arena, filing a dubious lawsuit for defamation.

Kennedy went on to indicate he had grown tired of the hoopla surrounding the case, telling the News: "I ended up pleading guilty to a disorderly conduct just to avoid the whole pomp and circumstances of what that had grown into."

Well, who is responsible for the "pomp and circumstances." Answer: Kennedy and his lawyers are. They have taken a number of ethically shaky actions. And most absurd of all, they dragged Kennedy's wife, Kimber, into the fray with a loss-of-consortium lawsuit.

Given the tactics of Team Kennedy, Jiddou and Strother had little choice but to respond with countersuits.

Perhaps most curious is this quote from Kennedy:

"Many times I've come to learn you're often forced out of your comfort zone and it's the only real opportunity to grow. I hope I learned some valuable lessons that will help me as I move forward."

Kennedy's right: This experience was an opportunity to grow--and to change his late-night ways. But his comments indicate he hasn't learned that lesson. Instead, he's blaming other people for a problem that he largely caused.

We've followed the Kennedy case partly because it raises a number of interesting legal issues and partly because the coach and two of his assistants are alums of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), my former employer.

If Ole Miss is going to keep Kennedy on as coach, it might want to hire two sets of babysitters--one to make sure that the coach and his immature assistants can stay out of bars into the wee hours and one to make sure that Kennedy can keep from spewing nonsense when he's asked for an interview.

1 comment:

Henry said...

Meybe he needs to hire a lobbyist to advocate for him...someone like Dak Swatex.