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Bob Huggins Coaching Career
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Bob Huggins, a legendary college basketball coach with over 900 career wins, has had a storied yet controversial career marked by both remarkable success and personal struggles.

Early Playing Days

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Bob Huggins was born on September 21, 1953, in Morgantown, West Virginia, to Charlie Huggins, a coach who influenced his son's career path in basketball. Huggins began his college playing career at Ohio University in 1972-1973 before transferring to his hometown West Virginia University (WVU). At WVU, he played from 1975 to 1977, appearing in 81 games and averaging 9.8 points per game over his three seasons. In his senior year, Huggins posted career-best averages of 13.2 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.
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Coaching Beginnings

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en.wikipedia.org
Huggins began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at West Virginia University in 1977 under head coach Joedy Gardner. He then spent two years as an assistant coach on Eldon Miller's staff at Ohio State University. In 1980, at age 27, Huggins earned his first head coaching job at Walsh College, an NAIA school in Ohio. Over three highly successful seasons, he compiled an impressive 71-26 record and twice earned NAIA District 22 Coach of the Year honors, including leading Walsh to a 34-1 record in 1982-83. After one season as an assistant at Central Florida in 1983-84, Huggins was hired as the head coach at the University of Akron. In his five seasons there from 1984 to 1989, he went 97-46 with four consecutive 20-win seasons and an NCAA tournament appearance in 1986.
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Akron and Cincinnati Tenures

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At the University of Akron from 1984 to 1989, Huggins compiled a 97-46 record over five seasons. He led the Zips to four consecutive 20-win campaigns and an NCAA tournament appearance in 1985-86. Huggins then took over at the University of Cincinnati in 1989, beginning an incredibly successful 16-year stint. He posted a 399-127 record with the Bearcats, making 13 straight NCAA tournament appearances. Huggins guided Cincinnati to the 1992 Final Four and won 16 consecutive regular season or conference tournament titles from 1992 to 1998, including five straight conference tournament championships. His 1999-2000 team spent time ranked #1 nationally before a season-ending injury derailed their NCAA run. Huggins coached three consensus All-Americans at Cincinnati.
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Kansas State and West Virginia Years

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After being forced out at Cincinnati in 2005, Huggins returned to coaching in 2006 at Kansas State. In his lone season with the Wildcats, he led them to a 23-12 record, a 10-6 mark in the Big 12, and an NIT appearance - their first postseason berth in eight years. In 2007, Huggins came home to his alma mater West Virginia University as head coach. Over 16 seasons in Morgantown, he amassed 345 wins and led the Mountaineers to the 2010 Final Four, 11 NCAA tournament appearances including five Sweet Sixteens, and the 2010 Big East tournament title. His intense defensive style made WVU a perennial contender. Huggins' overall head coaching record across 41 seasons at Walsh, Akron, Cincinnati, Kansas State, and West Virginia stands at an impressive 935-414 (.693 winning percentage). He is one of just six Division I coaches to reach 900 career wins and had the third-most victories in college basketball history upon retiring in 2023.
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Personal Life and Challenges

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Huggins has dealt with significant health issues over the years. In 2002, he suffered a heart attack that required bypass surgery. In 2003, he had a defibrillator implanted to regulate his heartbeat. His heart problems forced him to miss time during his coaching career. Off the court, Huggins has faced legal troubles and controversies stemming from alcohol-related incidents. In 2004, while coaching Cincinnati, he was arrested for DUI, nearly leading to his firing. In 2023, Huggins again faced a DUI charge in Pittsburgh, with police reporting he had a blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit. This arrest, combined with Huggins making homophobic remarks about Xavier fans on a radio show weeks earlier, led to his resignation from West Virginia. Despite his Hall of Fame coaching career, Huggins' personal struggles with alcohol and his brash personality repeatedly sparked controversies that tarnished his legacy. His 2023 scandals raised doubts about whether any school would hire him again as a head coach.
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Post-Resignation Developments

wsj.com
wsj.com
In June 2023, Bob Huggins submitted his resignation as head coach at West Virginia University following a DUI arrest and previous suspension for making homophobic remarks. However, Huggins later claimed through his lawyer that he did not actually resign and demanded reinstatement, sparking a dispute with the university. Despite initially announcing plans to retire, Huggins has since expressed a strong desire to continue coaching. "I have a strong desire to conclude my career as the Head Basketball Coach for the Mountaineers," he stated. However, prominent WVU donor and Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick firmly opposed Huggins' potential return, calling him a "hard no" and stating "his future with WVU sports is totally at an end." Kendrick harshly criticized Huggins' behavior, saying "Instead of being in the hall of fame, he should be in the hall of shame" due to his history of alcohol issues and controversial conduct. He questioned "the mental capacity of any leader" who would consider rehiring Huggins as a coach. While the 70-year-old Hall of Famer hopes to continue his coaching career elsewhere, his recent scandals and opposition from influential WVU figures have cast significant doubt on those prospects. His ability to land another prominent head coaching job remains uncertain.
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Charity Involvement

Bob Huggins has been deeply involved in charitable causes, most notably through his annual Bob Huggins Fish Fry event. The Fish Fry has raised over $4.4 million over the past decade to support the Norma Mae Huggins Cancer Research Endowment at the WVU Cancer Institute and other organizations close to Huggins' heart. In 2022, the event marked its 10th anniversary by raising a record $2.6 million for the WVU Cancer Institute, which has been inspired by Huggins' generosity and dedication to the cause. The Fish Fry has become a major philanthropic event in West Virginia, allowing Huggins to give back to the community while raising funds and awareness for cancer research and treatment.
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Coaching Legacy

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Huggins' coaching legacy is defined by his sustained excellence and ability to rebuild programs into consistent winners. He led teams to 24 NCAA tournaments, including two Final Four appearances with Cincinnati in 1992 and West Virginia in 2010. Huggins won over 900 games across stints at Walsh, Akron, Cincinnati, Kansas State, and West Virginia, becoming just the sixth Division I coach to reach that milestone. His teams captured 18 regular season and tournament conference titles. Huggins was a three-time Conference USA Coach of the Year and earned national coaching honors in 1998 and 2015. His intense, defensive-minded approach made his teams perennial contenders, though he never won a national championship. Huggins was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2022 in recognition of his immense coaching accomplishments.
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