High School Football Coach Fired for Praying at Games Given $2 Million Settlement

Joe Kennedy
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Joe Kennedy, the high school football coach fired for praying at games, has reached a $2 million settlement with the school board and will be reinstated as a coach.

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in Kennedy’s favor in August 2022, with the justice’s ruling that the First Amendment protected his right to pray on the field. A court later ruled in October 2022 that the Bremerton School District in Washington State must hire him back by March 2023. In a statement on its website dated March 6, Bremerton High School said that he would be an assistant coach for the 2023 season.

Joe Kennedy

Coach Joe Kennedy leads players in prayer following a high school football game. (Meegan M. Reid/ Kitsap Sun via AP

“Mr. Kennedy will be an assistant football coach for Bremerton High School for the 2023 season. Mr. Kennedy has completed human resources paperwork and we are awaiting the results of his fingerprinting and background check. Mr. Kennedy will need to complete all training required by WIAA,” it said.

The district also said it reached an agreement on Kennedy’s attorney fees for  $1,775,000, which the school board must approve.

“As with any other assistant coach, Mr. Kennedy will be included in coaching staff communication and meetings, spring football practice, and other off-season football activities,” the district said.

“We are thrilled that Bremerton and Coach Kennedy are back together and we hope they go undefeated,” Hiram Sasser, executive general counsel at First Liberty Institute, a legal organization representing Kennedy, told the Seattle Times.

Kennedy began praying on the 50-yard line alone at the end of games until several students started joining him, which morphed into him giving short inspirational talks in which he cited God and religion. When the school district learned of this practice, they asked him to stop and eventually fired him in 2015 when he refused to comply.

As Breitbart News profiled at the time, Sports Illustrated even waded into the debate in an article by Greg Bishop bashing the Supreme Court case, arguing that Kennedy’s win in court could be an “erosion” of American democracy.

“This Sports Illustrated article is little else but a long smear against Christians, conservatives, and white people in general, and coach Kennedy in particular, and on a vicious personal level,” Breitbart News noted.


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