Bob Huggins
Huggins in 2008
Biographical details
Born (1953-09-21) September 21, 1953 (age 70)
Morgantown, West Virginia, U.S.
Playing career
1975–1977West Virginia
Position(s)Point guard
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1977–1978West Virginia (assistant)
1978–1980Ohio State (assistant)
1983–1984UCF (assistant)
2006–2007Kansas State
2007–2023West Virginia
Head coaching record
Overall935–414 (.693)
Tournaments34–26 (NCAA Division I)
0–1 (NAIA)
3–4 (NIT)
1–1 (CBI)
Accomplishments and honors
2 NCAA Regional – Final Four (1992, 2010)
OVC regular season (1986)
OVC tournament (1986)
2 Great Midwest regular season (1992, 1993)
4 Great Midwest tournament (1992–1995)
8 C-USA regular season (1996–2002, 2004)
4 C-USA Tournament (1996, 1998, 2002, 2004)
Big East tournament (2010)
C-USA Coach of the Decade (2005)
3× C-USA Coach of the Year (1998–2000)
OVC Coach of the Year (1986)
Big 12 Coach of the Year (2015)
Jim Phelan Award (2015)
Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2022

Robert Edward Huggins (born September 21, 1953),[1][2] nicknamed "Huggy Bear", is an American college basketball coach. He was the head coach at Walsh, Akron, Cincinnati, Kansas State, and West Virginia. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2022.

Huggins is the sixth men's college basketball coach with 900 or more career victories.[3] He has been to 24 total NCAA tournaments, including 23 in the last 26 seasons. He has led his teams to nine Sweet Sixteen appearances, four Elite Eight appearances (3 at Cincinnati and 1 at West Virginia University), and two Final Four appearances (1992 with Cincinnati and 2010 with West Virginia). Huggins has also lost in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament a total of 16 times. As of March 2021, Huggins has averaged 23 wins per season over the course of his career. He is also the second coach to win 300 games at two schools.[4]

Huggins released a statement announcing his resignation and retirement from West Virginia in 2023, following his drunk driving arrest.[5] He later denied having officially resigned in a letter his lawyer sent to the university demanding his reinstatement.

Playing career

Huggins, who had moved from Morgantown, West Virginia to Port Washington, Ohio, with his family, played basketball for his father, Charles, at Indian Valley South High School. As a senior, he helped lead his team to a 26–0 season.[6] He was an all-state pick in three years, the Ohio Player of the Year in 1972, and he finished his high school career with 2,438 points, twelfth in Ohio history at the time.[7]

Huggins began college at Ohio University. After his freshman season he transferred to his native West Virginia. He played point guard for the Mountaineers from 1975 until 1977 under head coach Joedy Gardner.[8] His career-high was 28 points against Virginia Tech. He averaged 13.2 points as a senior and totaled 800 career points in his three collegiate seasons.

He graduated from WVU magna cum laude with a double major in education and physical education and subsequently received a master's degree in health administration from WVU.[7]

Coaching career

Early coaching career

Huggins began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at West Virginia under Gardner in 1977. He then spent two years as an assistant to Eldon Miller at Ohio State University. Huggins was 27 when he became a collegiate head coach for the first time, at Walsh University in 1980.[9] In three seasons at Walsh, he compiled a 71–26 record, twice earning NAIA District 22 Coach of the Year honors. Huggins directed the Walsh 1982–83 team to a perfect 30–0 regular season mark and an eventual 34–1 mark. After serving as an assistant at University of Central Florida for the 1983–84 season, Huggins was named head coach of the University of Akron. Huggins compiled a 97–46 record and reached post-season play in three of his five seasons at Akron, including an NCAA bid in 1985–86 season.


Huggins was the head coach of the Cincinnati Bearcats from 1989 to 2005. When Huggins was hired, the Bearcats had not earned a bid to the NCAA tournament since 1977. The Bearcats were invited to the NIT in his first two years, and then advanced to the Final Four of the 1992 NCAA tournament, Huggins' third season as coach. This was the first of 13 consecutive seasons in which the Bearcats appeared in the NCAA tournament.[9]

Twenty-seven percent of Huggins's players graduated with a degree, a rate described by one commentator as "abysmal".[10] During four of his years as Cincinnati's head coach, his graduation rate was 0%; that is, none of his players earned a degree.[11] In 2021, Huggins told a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter that criticism of his graduation rates was a "terrible rap", noting that his junior college transfers were not treated as graduates even if they later earned a degree.[12] According to the NCAA, the Bearcats men's basketball team's graduation rate increased as soon as Huggins left the head coaching job, although as late as 2017, it continued to be much lower than for other athletic programs at Cincinnati.[13]

Overall, Huggins compiled a 399–127 record (.759) in his 16 years at Cincinnati, making him the winningest basketball coach in the school's history. Only Ed Jucker has a better win percentage among Bearcats coaches.[14] Huggins directed Cincinnati to ten conference regular-season titles and eight league tournament titles. The Bearcats appeared in post-season play in each of Huggins' 16 seasons. In addition to their Final Four appearance in 1992, they advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament two other times, in 1993 and 1996.

Huggins earned the Ray Meyer Award as the Conference USA Coach of the Year a record three times (1997–98, 1998–99, and 1999–2000), and was a unanimous choice for C-USA Coach of the Decade. He was selected national coach of the year by in 2001–02. He was named co-national coach of the year by The Sporting News and was Basketball Times' national coach of the year in 1997–98.[15] His teams won five consecutive conference tournament titles—all four Great Midwest Conference titles from 1992 to 1995 and the first Conference USA men's basketball tournament in 1996.[citation needed] During his tenure, Huggins coached three consensus All-Americans: Danny Fortson, Kenyon Martin, and Steve Logan.[16]

Resignation from Cincinnati

Huggins was arrested for driving under the influence in Fairfax, Ohio on June 8, 2004. He ultimately pleaded no contest to DUI.[17] A judge ordered Huggins to pay a $350 fine plus court costs, and to attend a three-day state-certified intervention program.[18]

On August 23, 2005, UC President Nancy L. Zimpher said that the Bearcat program under Huggins didn't fit with her plan to upgrade UC's academic reputation.[19] Zimpher had been embarrassed by Huggins's DUI arrest, news of which broke on the morning of her first commencement as UC's president, at which Coretta Scott King spoke. In addition, an assistant coach, two players and a recruit had been arrested in the spring of 2005.[20] Zimpher gave Huggins 24 hours to either resign and take a $3 million buyout, or be reassigned outside the athletic department for the balance of his contract. Had Huggins not responded within 24 hours, he would have been fired.[21][22] Multiple letters between UC and Huggins' attorney showed that Huggins had known weeks in advance that his ouster was imminent.[21][23] He accepted the $3 million buyout.[24]

Kansas State

After spending a year out of the coaching profession, on March 23, 2006, Huggins accepted the head coaching job at Kansas State University,[25] replacing the fired Jim Wooldridge. Some of Huggins' recruiting targets included O. J. Mayo and Bill Walker, who had been seriously considering playing for him in Cincinnati.[26] In his sole season at Kansas State, Huggins coached the Wildcats to a 23–12 overall record, and a 10–6 Big 12 record. The Wildcats were invited to the NIT, where they won one game.[27]

West Virginia

Huggins was the head coach of the Mountaineers from 2007 to 2023. He has 345 coaching wins at WVU;[15] only Gale Catlett has more.[28]

Big East (2007–2012)

On April 5, 2007, Huggins announced that he had signed a five-year contract to be the head coach at his alma mater, West Virginia University. Huggins succeeded John Beilein, who left WVU to coach the Michigan Wolverines.[29] On December 22, 2007, Huggins won his 600th game, on the road against Canisius.[30] The Moutaineers were the 7th seed in the West region of the NCAA tournament where they defeated 2nd-seeded Duke 73–67 to move into the Sweet Sixteen, ending a streak of consecutive Sweet 16 appearances for Duke that had begun in 1997.[31] WVU lost its next game against #3-seed Xavier, 79–75, in overtime.[32] West Virginia finished the season ranked 17th in the AP poll. At the end of his first season at West Virginia, Huggins signed an 11-year contract extension that would keep him coaching at West Virginia until the age of 65.[33]

On May 18, 2008, Huggins completed his recruiting class with the signing of small forward, Devin Ebanks. The #13-ranked prospect had signed with Indiana before decommitting and looking at Memphis, Texas, Rutgers and WVU. Ebanks was the last addition to the freshman class that included #11-power forward Kevin Jones, #34-power forward Roscoe Davis and #26-point guard Darryl Bryant.[34][35] West Virginia began the 2008–09 season 4–0, led by senior Alex Ruoff and junior Da'Sean Butler. Having finished the regular season at 21–10 (10–8), West Virginia earned a first round bye in the 2009 Big East tournament, where they lost in the semifinals to Syracuse in overtime, 74–69. WVU earned a #6 seed in the NCAA tournament and lost their first-round game against the #11 seed Dayton Flyers, 68–60.[36]

In 2012, Bleacher Report described Huggins's third season with the Mountaineers as having been his "best chance" to win a national title.[37] During the 2009–10 season, West Virginia won a school-record 31 games. The team won the Big East tournament for the first time. As a #2 seed in the NCAA tournament, the Mountaineers went to their second Final Four in school history, and finished ranked #3 in the ESPN/USA Today poll.[38]

In the 2010–11 season, the Mountaineers made it to the third round of the NCAA tournament, where they lost to Kentucky, 71–63. Huggins embraced Kentucky head coach John Calipari, a close friend, after the game, and wished him good luck.[39]

On December 22, 2011, Huggins reached his 700th career victory by defeating Missouri State in the Las Vegas Classic.[40]

Big 12 (2012–2023)

The 2012–13 season was the first for the Mountaineers in the Big 12 Conference. Huggins described the new conference's schedule as a "grind" early in the season, due to the increased travel requirements and high quality of opponents.[41] He also remarked about the difference in officiating, with a higher incidence of foul calls in the Big 12 than in the Big East.[42] After a rare sub-.500 season in 2012–13, Huggins told the press before the following season, "It's not acceptable to lose … I think it got to the point it was acceptable. I've never had that before, I don't want that again".[43] During his first two seasons in the Big 12, the Mountaineers did not qualify for the NCAA tournament, Huggins's first two consecutive tournament misses as a head coach since his first two years at Cincinnati. In an interview with ESPN in 2016, Huggins said it was "100 percent my fault" that the teams were not able to qualify.[44]

Huggins is credited with the introduction of "Press Virginia", a pressing defense that helped the team win 14 of its first 15 games in the 2014–15 season.[45] The defense was said to have "met its match" in the 2016 NCAA tournament, when 14th-seeded Stephen F. Austin defeated 3rd-seeded WVU in the first round. "I don't know why anybody would waste energy pressing us," Huggins said after the game. "We'll throw it to you regardless. That would be a waste of energy really. We're very charitable. We're one of the most charitable groups in college basketball. The second straight game we've turned it over 20 times."[46][47] Early in the 2017–18 season, Huggins suggested that Press Virginia might not be used as often, due to his roster being depleted.[48]

On November 6, 2017, WVU and Huggins agreed to a four-year contract extension that included an option for him to step aside or continue coaching after the 2021–22 season, and starting with the 2022–23 season, an option to continue coaching or to work elsewhere in the athletic department through June 2027.[49]

Despite beginning the 2018–19 season ranked No. 13, the Mountaineers finished the regular season at 12–19 (4–14), earning last place in Big 12 conference play for the first time. Despite finishing last in the conference, the Mountaineers upset Oklahoma and No. 7 Texas Tech to advance to the conference tournament semifinals. This led Huggins to tweet a video of himself—when he was the head coach of the Cincinnati Bearcats—emerging from a coffin to say, "Why all the long faces? We're not dead yet!"[50] West Virginia lost to No. 17 Kansas in the semifinals the next day.[51] The Mountaineers were invited to the College Basketball Invitational, where they beat Grand Canyon in the first round before losing to Coastal Carolina in the quarterfinals.[52] The team's 21 losses were the most in a season in school history.

In November 2020, three months after Thom Brennaman was suspended for using an anti-gay slur on a hot mic while broadcasting a Cincinnati Reds game, Huggins invited Brennaman to speak to the WVU men's basketball team. Huggins thanked Brennaman on Twitter, writing that Brennaman's message "isn't one of excuses but one of accountability."[53] After Huggins faced criticism in 2023 for using the same slur on a live radio show in Cincinnati, several journalists wrote that Huggins must have been aware of how offensive the term was because of his decision to invite and acknowledge Brennaman.[54][55][56]

In 2021, West Virginia defeated 14th seed Morehead State in the NCAA tournament before losing in a three-point upset to Jim Boeheim's Syracuse Orange in the second round. The Mountaineers' win over Morehead State was also Bob Huggins' 900th career victory.[57] On November 18, 2021, Huggins earned his 903rd career victory by defeating Elon in the quarterfinals of the Charleston Classic, passing Bob Knight all-time among Division I coaches and tying Roy Williams for fourth all-time.[58] Three days later, Huggins passed Williams when the Mountaineers beat Clemson. Upon passing Williams in career wins, Huggins remarked, "I’m not going to quit until I beat Roy in something."[59] In the 2022 Big 12 men's basketball tournament, WVU defeated Kansas State 73–67 in the preliminary round and lost 63–87 to Kansas in the next day's quarterfinal round. Huggins was given two technical fouls and ejected from the game against Kansas after fiercely disputing a technical foul called on Taz Sherman.[60]

Offensive remarks

On May 8, 2023, Bob Huggins used a homophobic slur and expressed anti-Catholic sentiment when talking about Xavier fans on The Bill Cunningham Show, a radio show airing on WLW in Cincinnati.[61][62] Some members of the sports media said that Huggins should resign or be fired as a result.[63][64][65] Huggins issued an apology for the statement, calling it "completely insensitive and abhorrent" and promising to fully accept any consequences.[66] In response to Huggins's remarks, West Virginia University stated, "The situation is under review and will be addressed by the university and its athletics department."[67][61]

Some faculty at WVU expressed disappointment about Huggins's comments and outrage regarding increased use of homophobic slurs among the student body as a show of support for Huggins.[68] Morgantown Pride, an LGBTQ+ support organization in Morgantown, called for WVU to terminate Huggins's employment.[69] Some national sports commentators called for Huggins to be fired for his remarks, while others argued that firing Huggins would have been an overreaction, since the inappropriate slur that Huggins used has been used for decades in banter among fans of rival teams.[70][71] Many of WVU's top donors continued to support Huggins after his comments on the radio caused offense.[72] One long-time WVU donor, a gay man, told WV Sports Now that he planned to redirect his donations away from the athletic department in response to Huggins's comments.[73]

Second drunk driving arrest

On June 16, 2023, Huggins was arrested in Pittsburgh and charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol.[74] Police officers reported that they found him in an SUV that was blocking traffic, with the driver's door ajar and with a "flat and shredded tire". Bags of empty beer containers were found in the vehicle. A breath test determined his blood alcohol content to be 0.21%, more than two times the legal limit of 0.08%. Officers asked Huggins what city he was in, and did not get a clear response, with Huggins making mention of Columbus, Ohio a few times.[75]

Resignation and retirement

On June 17, 2023, Huggins released a statement announcing his resignation from West Virginia. In the statement, he also announced his retirement.[5]

On July 2, 2023, in a letter sent to West Virginia University, Huggins, through his attorney, David A. Campbell, claimed that "he never signed a resignation letter and never communicated a resignation to anyone by WVU." According to the Associated Press, Huggins threatened legal action if he was not given his job back. In response, WVU officials stated that they were "confused by the allegations within the letter".[76][77]

Head coaching record

Statistics overview
Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Walsh Cavaliers (Mid-Ohio Conference) (1980–1983)
1980–81 Walsh 14–16 9–5 3rd or 4th
1981–82 Walsh 23–9 11–3 1st NAIA District 22 First Round
1982–83 Walsh 34–1 14–0 1st NAIA First Round
Walsh: 71–26 (.732) 34–8 (.810)
Akron Zips (Ohio Valley Conference) (1984–1987)
1984–85 Akron 12–14 6–8 6th
1985–86 Akron 22–8 10–4 T–1st NCAA Division I Round of 64
1986–87 Akron 21–9 9–5 2nd
Akron Zips (NCAA Division I independent) (1987–1989)
1987–88 Akron 21–7
1988–89 Akron 21–8
Akron: 97–46 (.678) 25–17 (.595)
Cincinnati Bearcats (Metro Conference) (1989–1991)
1989–90 Cincinnati 20–14 9–5 2nd NIT Second Round
1990–91 Cincinnati 18–12 8–6 3rd NIT Second Round
Cincinnati Bearcats (Great Midwest Conference) (1991–1995)
1991–92 Cincinnati 29–5 8–2 T–1st NCAA Division I Final Four
1992–93 Cincinnati 27–5 8–2 1st NCAA Division I Elite Eight
1993–94 Cincinnati 22–10 7–5 4th NCAA Division I Round of 64
1994–95 Cincinnati 23–11 7–5 3rd NCAA Division I Round of 32
Cincinnati Bearcats (Conference USA) (1995–2005)
1995–96 Cincinnati 28–5 11–3 1st NCAA Division I Elite Eight
1996–97 Cincinnati 26–8 14–2 1st NCAA Division I Round of 32
1997–98 Cincinnati 27–6 12–4 1st NCAA Division I Round of 32
1998–99 Cincinnati 27–6 12–4 1st (American) NCAA Division I Round of 32
1999–00 Cincinnati 29–4 16–0 1st (American) NCAA Division I Round of 32
2000–01 Cincinnati 25–10 11–5 1st (American) NCAA Division I Sweet 16
2001–02 Cincinnati 31–4 14–2 1st (American) NCAA Division I Round of 32
2002–03 Cincinnati 17–12 9–7 T–4th NCAA Division I Round of 64
2003–04 Cincinnati 25–7 12–4 T–1st NCAA Division I Round of 32
2004–05 Cincinnati 25–8 12–4 T–2nd NCAA Division I Round of 32
Cincinnati: 399–127 (.759) 170–60 (.739)
Kansas State Wildcats (Big 12 Conference) (2006–2007)
2006–07 Kansas State 23–12 10–6 4th NIT Second Round
Kansas State: 23–12 (.657) 10–6 (.625)
West Virginia Mountaineers (Big East Conference) (2007–2012)
2007–08 West Virginia 26–11 11–7 T–5th NCAA Division I Sweet 16
2008–09 West Virginia 23–12 10–8 T–7th NCAA Division I Round of 64
2009–10 West Virginia 31–7 13–5 T–2nd NCAA Division I Final Four
2010–11 West Virginia 21–12 11–7 T–6th NCAA Division I Round of 32
2011–12 West Virginia 19–14 9–9 8th NCAA Division I Round of 64
West Virginia Mountaineers (Big 12 Conference) (2012–2023)
2012–13 West Virginia 13–19 6–12 8th
2013–14 West Virginia 17–16 9–9 T–6th NIT First Round
2014–15 West Virginia 25–10 11–7 T–3rd NCAA Division I Sweet 16
2015–16 West Virginia 26–9 13–5 2nd NCAA Division I Round of 64
2016–17 West Virginia 28–9 12–6 T–2nd NCAA Division I Sweet 16
2017–18 West Virginia 26–11 11–7 T–2nd NCAA Division I Sweet 16
2018–19 West Virginia 15–21 4–14 10th CBI Quarterfinal
2019–20 West Virginia 21–10 9–9 T–3rd No postseason held
2020–21 West Virginia 19–10 11–6 T–3rd NCAA Division I Round of 32
2021–22 West Virginia 16–17 4–14 10th
2022–23 West Virginia 19–15 7–11 8th NCAA Division I Round of 64
West Virginia: 345–203 (.630) 150–135 (.526)
Total: 935–414 (.693)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

Coaching tree

Several former assistant coaches and players of Huggins have gone on to their own careers in coaching.

Broadcasting career

Huggins was the host of The Bob Huggins Show, a talk show produced by Gold and Blue Nation, a partnership between WVU Athletics and WBOY TV.[78]

After leaving the head coaching position at WVU, Huggins joined Full Court Press, a radio show about WVU basketball, presented by HD Media. Huggins also contributed commentary on March Madness television coverage in 2023.[79]

Personal life

Huggins was born in Morgantown, West Virginia on September 21, 1953. He and his wife have two daughters.[15]

Huggins has a family history of heart problems: his father had a heart attack before the age of 40. In 2002, at Pittsburgh International Airport during a recruiting trip, Huggins experienced a heart attack himself. He was treated at a medical center in Beaver, Pennsylvania, where he had surgery to implant a stent.[80] Later in his life, due to atrial fibrillation, Huggins had a defibrillator implanted. His defibrillator turned on during a game in 2017 against Texas, causing him to clutch his chest and fall down. He was examined at the scene by medical personnel, and resumed coaching afterwards.[81]

The annual Bob Huggins Fish Fry has been held 11 times, most recently on January 27, 2023, to raise money for charity.[82] At the 2023 event, where Charles Barkley was the headlining guest, a record 2,700 people attended. The event has raised more than $16 million for charities including the Norma Mae Huggins Cancer Research Endowment Fund, named after Huggins's mother, and the Remembering the Miners organization.[83][84]

For each WVU win against Kansas, Huggins's contract stipulated a $25,000 win bonus, which he donated to the Norma Mae Huggins Cancer Research Endowment Fund.[85] He has also hosted fundraising events for WVU,[86][87] and he and his wife have donated to the university on their own.[88] Following Huggins's use of a gay slur to describe Xavier University students, he made a "substantial donation" to support Xavier's Center for Faith and Justice and Center for Diversity and Inclusion.[89]

See also


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  4. ^ Clark, Dave (January 5, 2021). "Bob Huggins earns his 300th win as West Virginia Mountaineers' head coach". The Cincinnati Enquirer.
  5. ^ a b Thamel, Pete (June 18, 2023). "Huggins resigns as WVU coach in wake of arrest".
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  7. ^ a b Hartman, Marcus (February 21, 2017). "5 things to know about former Cincinnati Bearcats coach Bob Huggins". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved June 17, 2023.
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  33. ^ WVU's Huggins signs 11-year deal – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Archived April 2, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  34. ^ "West Virginia Football & Basketball".[dead link]
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