Head coach Bob Huggins of the West Virginia Mountaineers reacts during the first half against the Maryland Terrapins in the first round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Legacy Arena at the BJCC on March 16, 2023 in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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The chaos associated with the West Virginia University men's basketball program continues after former longtime head coach Bob Huggins reportedly claimed he never resigned following an arrest for an alleged DUI and threatened to sue the school if it does not immediately reinstate him.
Much of the drama began last month, when Huggins was arrested in Pittsburgh for allegedly driving under the influence. Tests suggested that at the time of his arrest on June 16, Huggins' blood-alcohol level had reached .21%, while the legal limit is .08%. Huggins reportedly met with his team and several WVU officials the following day to apprise them of his pending resignation.
That night, the university posted to its website a statement, purportedly from Huggins, announcing that he had officially resigned as head coach "effective immediately." "My recent actions do not represent the values of the University or the leadership expected in this role. While I have always tried to represent our University with honor, I have let all of you – and myself – down," Huggins' alleged statement read in part. "I am solely responsible for my conduct and sincerely apologize to the University community – particularly to the student-athletes, coaches and staff in our program. I must do better, and I plan to spend the next few months focused on my health and my family so that I can be the person they deserve." As of Monday afternoon, the statement remains on the WVU athletics website.
Despite evidence suggesting that Huggins voluntarily resigned, his attorney, David Campbell, seemed to claim last week that the resignation has all been a big misunderstanding. On Friday, Campbell sent a letter to West Virginia University President Gordon Gee, alleging that Huggins never submitted a formal resignation by certified mail, as was required by his contract. Instead, "the purported 'resignation' is incredibly based on a text message from Coach Huggins' wife," the letter said.
While not exactly a text message, on June 17, WVU athletics director Wren Baker did receive an email from an account allegedly associated with June Huggins, Huggins' wife. The email said, "Please accept this correspondence as my formal notice of resignation as WVU Head Basketball Coach and as notice of my retirement from West Virginia University, effective immediately."
The school responded to Campbell's letter by insisting that Huggins will not be reinstated to his former position. Former assistant coach Josh Eilert has already been named Huggins' interim replacement, and several Mountaineers have since transferred to other schools. The school seemed unfazed by threats of a lawsuit for breach of contract.
"The conflicting communications and correspondence from various counsel on Mr. Huggins’s behalf leave the University unclear as to its next steps: continue working collaboratively with Mr. Fitzsimmons on common resignation/retirement benefits for a former University employee and as outlined in Mr. Huggins’ contract; or respond to meritless demand letters and possible frivolous litigation brought forth by you," West Virginia Vice President and general counsel Stephanie Taylor wrote to Campbell on Saturday.
Huggins was also arrested for a DUI in 2004 and pled no contest. He left the University of Cincinnati, the team he had been coaching for 16 years and with whom he notched a Final Four appearance in 1992, shortly thereafter, likely on account of the arrest. Huggins also ruffled feathers in early May of this year, about six weeks before his latest DUI-related arrest, when he made a joke on a radio program that some claimed was an anti-Catholic, gay slur. Huggins later apologized.
Should Huggins, 69, remain retired, he will leave behind a strong legacy at WVU, his alma mater. During his 16 years as the Mountaineers' head coach, Huggins has taken the team to 11 NCAA tournaments, five Sweet 16s, and even a Final Four appearance in 2010, when they lost to Duke. Between his head-coaching stints at the University of Akron, Cincinnati, Kansas State, and WVU, Huggins has racked up 935 total victories, good for third in NCAA Division I history behind only Mike Krzyzewski of Duke (1,202) and Jim Boeheim of Syracuse (1,015).
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Sr. Editor, News
Cortney Weil is a senior editor for Blaze News.