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When College Basketball Coaches Attack

Andy Kennedy

Andy Kennedy

Many basketball coaches have fiery personalities so that they can get the most out of their players but last week in Cincinnati, Mississippi men’s basketball coach Andy Kennedy took his coaching style to the back seat of a cab where he was arrested after he allegedly struck a cab driver with a closed fist and berated the cab driver with racial slurs.  Kennedy was charged with misdemeanor assault.  http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/news/story?id=3783491; http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/news/story?id=3777703

My question is why was Kennedy charged with a misdemeanor assault claim instead of a battery claim?  In order to prove criminal battery a plaintiff must prove application of force to another person resulting in bodily injury or offensive touching; whereas assault requires an (1) attempt to commit battery and intentional creation of reasonable apprehension in another person of imminent bodily harm.  Since Jiddou was struck in the face by Kennedy’s fist it would seem that a battery claim would fit best since Jiddou suffered a swollen face.  Kennedy may try to argue that he was intoxicated and therefore could not form intent.  However this defense would fail since assault and battery are general intent crimes and don’t require intent.  The racial slurs, whether uttered or not will have no effect on the outcome of this case unless they caused intentional infliction of emotional distress which is not likely here.   

Kennedy will also argue that Jiddou is not telling the truth about his allegations.  In fact Kennedy has filed a defamation claim against Jiddou and a witness, Michael Strother. Kennedy argues that the accusations of Jiddou and Strother have ruined his reputation and therefore he is entitled to $25,000.  In order for Kennedy to win on the defamation suit he will have to prove that a (1) defamatory statement (2) of or concerning Kennedy was (3) publicized to a 3rd party and (4) damage to the reputation of Kennedy occurred.  Additionally since Kennedy is a public figure he must also prove that the statements were false and that the defendants had actual malice or intended to make false statements.  In this case Kennedy cannot prove what the defendants are saying is false.  Therefore he will lose on any defamation claim unless he can come up with convincing evidence of the false statements. 

Kennedy should take responsibility for his actions and drop his suit if the allegations are true.  As a role model to his players and his university he should not have been out late at night, possibly intoxicated in the first place.  Kennedy is lucky to keep his job and he needs to move on and not drag out a bad situation.  Hopefully Kennedy and other coaches will learn a lesson from this and not let it happen again in the future.  However if one thing is certain it’s that scandals and allegations will never go away in high profile sports.         

Update 4/20/08 – Kennedy pleaded guilty to a reduced for of disorderly conduct and received 6 months probation and 40 hours of community service.   http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/news/story?id=4083219

 

 
 
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