Ole Miss coach's trial will follow season

CINCINNATI -- A judge delayed the assault trial of Mississippi basketball coach Andy Kennedy on Friday until after the NCAA tournament.

Also Friday, the cab driver who accused Kennedy of hitting him and using ethnic slurs filed a lawsuit against the coach in response to Kennedy's defamation lawsuit.

The latest lawsuit seeks damages from Kennedy for the alleged assault and accuses the coach of filing a frivolous lawsuit.

Kennedy's trial on the criminal charge was set for April 20 after his attorney, Mike Allen, asked that a jury trial be held after the basketball season.

Kennedy faces a first-degree misdemeanor count of assault, which would carry a maximum sentence of six months in jail if convicted.

"He's confident in the ultimate outcome in this case, which we believe will be vindication for him," Allen said. "I'm not at liberty to discuss the facts at this time, but suffice to say, we vehemently deny any of these charges."

Mohamed Moctar Ould Jiddou told police that Kennedy punched him in the face and called him "[Osama] bin Laden" and other derogatory terms during a Dec. 18 dispute that centered on how many passengers were allowed in his taxi.

Police arrested Kennedy, who was in town for the SEC/Big East Invitational Tournament.

Kennedy, 40, a former assistant coach and interim head coach at the University of Cincinnati, denied the allegations. He sued Jiddou for alleged defamation, along with a valet who said he witnessed the altercation.

Jiddou, 25, a native of the northwest Africa country of Mauritania, says in his countersuit that Kennedy's lawsuit was meant to harass him and cause him needless costs.

Michael Strother, the valet witness, also countersued, alleging Kennedy's lawsuit was frivolous.

"I've been practicing for 46 years, and I've never heard of such a thing -- a witness who was acting essentially as a Good Samaritan who stepped forward to tell police what he believes he saw, and then he is sued for $25,000 or more," said Phil Taliaferro, Strother's attorney.

Richard Katz, Kennedy's lawyer in the civil matters, said he hadn't seen the counterclaims and couldn't comment on them.

"It's not unexpected," Katz said. "We'll respond to it at the appropriate time."

The cab driver and valet also face civil allegations that they caused a "loss of consortium" between Kennedy and his wife, Kimber.