West Virginia University men’s basketball head coach Bob Huggins apologized after using an anti-gay slur to describe a Catholic school rival during an appearance on a Cincinnati-area radio program.
Appearing Monday, May 8, on the “Bill Cunningham Show” on Cincinnati’s Newsradio 700 WLW, one of the hosts asked Huggins — who previously coached the University of Cincinnati Bearcats from 1989 to 2005, leading the team to 14 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances — about his thoughts on the team’s former in-city rival, Xavier University.
In response, Huggins made several anti-gay remarks and slurs directed toward Xavier’s fanbase, which he claimed was hostile toward him and his team during Cincinnati-Xavier “Crosstown Shootout” rivalry games.
“Any school that can throw rubber penises on the floor and then say they didn’t do it, my God, they can get away with anything,” Huggins said, referring to objects thrown onto the court during one of those rivalry games.
“I think it was ‘transgender night,’ wasn’t it?” Cunningham responded.
“What it was, was all those f**s, those Catholic f**s, I think,” Huggins said. “They were envious they didn’t have one.”
After the interview, Huggins later backtracked on the comments, releasing a statement apologizing for any offense they caused.
“Earlier today on a Cincinnati radio program, I was asked about the rivalry between my former employer, the University of Cincinnati, and its crosstown rival, Xavier University. During the conversation, I used a completely insensitive and abhorrent phrase that there is simply no excuse for — and I won’t try to make one here,” Huggins said in the statement.
“I deeply apologize to the individuals I have offended, as well as to the Xavier University community, the University of Cincinnati, and West Virginia University,” he added. “As I have shared with my players over my 40 years of coaching, there are consequences for our words and actions, and I will fully accept any coming my way. I am ashamed and embarrassed and heartbroken for those I have hurt. I must do better, and I will.”
In a separate statement, the West Virginia University athletic department referred to Huggins’s remarks as “insensitive, offensive,” and not representative of the university’s values.
“Coach Huggins has since apologized,” the university said in a statement. “West Virginia University does not condone the use of such language and takes such actions very seriously. The situation is under review and will be addressed by the University and its athletics department.”
In response to a follow-up question asking whether Huggins would be permitted to continue recruiting and working during the review, a spokesman for West Virginia University’s men’s basketball team referred The Hill to the university’s prior statement.
According to NCSA College Recruiting, Division I men’s college basketball coaches can host prospective players for official and unofficial visits until May 18, and then starting again on May 27. Coaches cannot go out on the recruiting trail until mid-June.
Huggins did not respond to inquiries about what disciplinary action, if any, the university had taken.
He did not appear at a West Virginia fundraising event in Wheeling on Monday night, according to The New York Times. Instead, his longtime assistant, Ron Everhart appeared in his place.
West Virginia University’s athletic director, Wren Baker, later told reporters that Huggins “had a conflict and won’t be able to attend tonight.”
Huggins, 69, is an alumnus of West Virginia University who spent the last 16 seasons compiling a 345-203 record, with 11 NCAA Tournament appearances and one Final Four appearance, reports ESPN.
He is currently the winningest active coach in college basketball, with a 934-415 win-loss career record, having previously served as head coach at Walsh Univeristy, a Division II school, before spending 38 years coaching Division I basketball at the University of Akron, the University of Cincinnati, and Kansas State University prior to 2007.
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