West Virginia coach Bob Huggins is a veteran on the sidelines and one of the most powerful men in NCAA basketball today. He earns over $3 million from the University because he’s a proven winner, often by any means necessary. And he rarely has time for those who question his awesome authority.
However, the head man for the Mountaineers went a little too far during a recent interview, and he’s finding himself at the end of the backlash. While appearing on the May 8, 2023, episode of The Bill Cunningham Show, he used a homophobic slur and expressed anti-Catholic sentiments on more than one occasion.
The radio show airs on Cincinnati 700 WLW- where Huggins formerly coached the Bearcats and is still popular among the city’s fan base. He was discussing former rivals Xavier University, a Jesuit School that also calls The Queen City it’s home.
Following the interview’s airing, Bob Huggins subsequently issued an apology for what he had said, calling it “completely insensitive and abhorrent” and promised to accept any consequences.
Huggins has been known to be fearless with his opinions, often at the expense of others. Because of his history of success, it’s been mostly swept aside. Still, his reputation was well-known by local media in previous stops at Akron, Cincinnati, and Kansas State. And for the most part, the nickname ‘Huggy Bear’ has always been a bit of a misnomer for the often prickly head coach.
But not this time.
Amidst calls for Bob Huggins to be fired, the administration in Morgantown was faced with a tough decision. The comments were easily a terminable offense, but the school chose to blow the whistle on their head coach in a different manner. And while Huggy Bear will return to the bench next year, he’ll have a lot lighter wallet to sit on when he does.
Huggins has agreed to a million-dollar salary reduction, a three-game suspension, and sensitivity training. Huggins’ suspension will take place during his team’s first three regular-season games.
Financially speaking, the coach’s contract will be amended from a multi-year agreement to a year-by-year pact that will begin on May 10, 2023, and end on April 30, 2024.
So, a couple of calamitous comments will prove costly for Bob Huggins, causing his salary to drop from $4.2 million to $3.2 million.
Huggins, 69, will also be required to meet with leadership from the university’s Carruth Center “to better understand the mental health crisis facing our college students, particularly those in marginalized communities. It is expected he will work with the Center and the University to raise awareness on how we can best support our students’ health and well-being.”
For his part, the Mountaineers coach has remained reticent and appears to be living up to his promise to take his medicine. While this appears to be a huge setback for Bob Huggins, he has survived controversy in the past during a long coaching career. And the odds are that when he returns to the bench next season? It will be business as usual amongst the mountains of West Virginia.