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High school football coach fired for praying with players wins $1.7 million settlement

High school football coach fired for praying with players wins $1.7 million settlement

The settlement brings an end to a drawn-out legal battle involving the Supreme Court and the constitution

A high school American football coach has won a $1.7 million settlement after he was fired for praying with his players.

That are lots of things that sports coaches can get fired for, and they tend to be performance-related.

On the rare occasions that they are not, they tend to be quite serious. Praying with your players doesn't sound like grounds for dismissal, but that's exactly what happened to Joseph Kennedy back in 2015.

Kennedy began his American football coaching career at Bremerton High School, Washington, in 2008.

According to the Daily Mail, Bremerton developed a habit of praying on the 50-yard line at the end of games.

Over the years players started to join him, with the coach delivering inspirational speeches that leaned heavily on religion as well as leading locker room prayers.

For years Kennedy did this, until in 2015 the school's board received complaints that some student-athletes felt pressured to take part in the prayer.

Kennedy returned to praying alone, but he was still placed on paid leave. He was not rehired the following season as the school said he had not followed district policy.

After a seven-year-long dispute, in June Kennedy was vindicated when the Supreme Court found 6-3 in his favour.

The court decided that the constitution protected his right to kneel and pray with his players on the field.

Now, the former coach will receive a staggering $1,775,000 (£1,450,973) after the Bremerton School District voted unanimously to accept the settlement payout.

Kennedy is also permitted to return as an assistant football coach at the school for the 2023 season.

"It is just incredible to know that I did nothing wrong. Everything I did was fine," Kennedy told the Daily Mail after the settlement was approved.

"I had a commitment with God that I'd give him thanks after every football game, win or lose."

After approving the settlement payout this week, school board president Alyson Rotter said: "We look forward to moving past the distraction of this nearly eight-year legal battle so that our school community can focus on what matters most: providing our children the best education possible."

Featured Image Credit: ABC/CNN News

Topics: American Football, United States