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Bock: Bob Huggins Doesn’t Have Much Time to Fix Mistake



Bob Huggins Slur
Fans honor Bob Huggins after his recent induction into the Hall of Fame. (WVSN photo by Kelsie LeRose)

This was a lose-lose situation from the start.

Bob Huggins did the unthinkable earlier this week when he got on Bill Cunningham’s radio show in Cincinnati. Huggins made the terrible mistake of using an anti-gay slur and double-downing on it.

Just like that, a Basketball Hall of Famer’s reputation on the line.

About 48 hours after the incident, West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee and Director of Athletics Wren Baker made a joint statement, punishing Huggins for his comments. Huggins will serve a three-game suspension, his contract is reduced by $1 million and he will work with the LGTBQ+ communities in various events. Huggins’ contract also got modified from a multi-year agreement to a year-by-year agreement. The good news for Huggins? He remains the head coach of the men’s basketball program at least until April 30, 2024.

The public seems very split on this whole situation. Many called for Huggins to be fired, while others believe in giving him a second chance.

Here are my thoughts on WVU’s punishments and Huggins’ future.

I thought the punishment was fair. I actually think it was the best case scenario for Huggins. You can suspend a person for a certain amount of games. You can also reduce someone’s contract for so much money. No matter what the punishments were to Huggins, there were going to be people still unhappy. It’s now up to Huggins to step up and own up to his actions. That’s how he can win some people over. Huggins will need to work with the LGBTQ+ community and then some. Huggins needs to go out of his way to fix his mistake.

I believe in second chances. People make mistakes, we are all human. But for how big of a figure Huggins is to the University and the state, there’s not much breathing room for error. Huggins had to rebuild his reputation after his DUI charge in 2004, which led to the end of his tenure at Cincinnati. Now Huggins is here again, this time with his own words hurting him.

Huggins has the opportunity to redeem himself and learn how that slur can be harmful to others. No, he didn’t physically hurt anyone. But he did hurt some with his words. That needs to be the lesson learned here.

Huggins will enter his 17th season at West Virginia with no room for error. Gee and Baker gave Huggins his final warning. One more mistake like this week, and he’s done. Huggins will have the opportunity to coach a talented team, on paper, that has been built throughout the offseason. West Virginia’s coaching staff has brought in the No. 1 transfer portal class, as of Thursday. This is Huggins’ chance to have another successful season during his incredible career and he almost screwed it up.

To me, it appears that the University is preparing for what the program will be after Huggins. I think if Huggins can rebuild his image and “do better” as he says in his statements, he has the opportunity to remain head coach after next season. It’s unfortunate that a coach who has had a great career is on a rocky path in what could be his final season.

Not many people escape the cancel culture in our society but Huggins has the opportunity to prove why people should get second chances. It’s going to take a lot of forgiveness in a short amount of time though.

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