Bob Huggins asserted on Monday that he had never resigned as the West Virginia men’s basketball coach after being arrested and charged with driving under the influence last month, contrary to a statement released by the university, and that he expected to be reinstated after completing a voluntary rehabilitation program.
In a statement on Monday, Huggins said that a university announcement of his resignation on June 17 was false, and that he “did not draft or review WVU’s statement.” Huggins said he had not signed it, and therefore never resigned according to the employment agreement in his contract. One week after his announced resignation, the school named an interim replacement.
He said he had been in a rehabilitation center that he was planning to stay in “until I am cleared to return to my active coaching duties,” and he apologized for “the mistake that I made in Pittsburgh,” referring to his arrest. Huggins’s statement was first obtained by West Virginia MetroNews.
The statement came after David A. Campbell, a lawyer for Huggins, had sent a letter to the university’s president. In the letter, first reported by West Virginia MetroNews, Campbell wrote that the university had announced Huggins’s resignation based on an email sent by his wife, and that the email would not qualify as a resignation pursuant to Huggins’s employment agreement. That, Campbell said, required a statement “in writing via registered or certified mail.”
Addressing a subsequent letter from Campbell, Stephanie Taylor, a lawyer for the university, expressed confusion over whether Campbell was saying Huggins had never resigned — as well as over the state of Huggins’s legal representation.
In a letter, obtained and reviewed by The New York Times, Taylor wrote that another lawyer for Huggins, James Gianola, had “indicated to the university that Mr. Huggins had decided to resign and retire” on June 17. In response, the university told Gianola that it needed Huggins’s resignation in writing, according to Taylor.
Taylor said that Gianola then asked the university if it would accept his resignation in the form of an email from his wife, June Huggins, since Bob Huggins didn’t use email and Gianola was “having IT issues.”
In an email to The Times on Monday, a spokeswoman said the university had no response to Huggins’s statement beyond what it had already said. Gianola did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On June 24, the university announced that Josh Eilert, who was on West Virginia’s staff for 16 seasons under Huggins, would serve as the interim coach for the 2023-24 season, after which the university would conduct a national search.
Huggins’s job was in jeopardy before his arrest. Huggins was suspended in May for using a homophobic slur twice and for mocking Catholics during a live radio interview two days earlier. In response, the university docked his pay by $1 million from $4.15 million per year, required him to undergo sensitivity training and suspended him for the first three games of the 2023-24 season.
Huggins, 69, amassed 863 wins in 38 seasons as the head coach at Akron, Cincinnati, Kansas State and West Virginia, ranking eighth on the men’s Division I career wins list. Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2022, Huggins had the most victories among active coaches when West Virginia announced his departure.