Attorney: Huggins says he never resigned as West Virginia's coach and wants his job back
Bob Huggins says he never resigned as West Virginia's basketball coach following a drunken-driving arrest and wants his job back, according to a letter from his attorney to the university.
Huggins' Cleveland-based attorney, David A. Campbell, wrote to the university Friday that Huggins “never signed a resignation letter and never communicated a resignation to anyone at WVU,” according to the letter, which was obtained by The Associated Press on Saturday.
The letter threatens a lawsuit if Huggins isn’t reinstated. Huggins’ demands were first reported by West Virginia network MetroNews.
Huggins was charged with driving under the influence in Pittsburgh on June 16. A breath test determined Huggins’ blood-alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit. His resignation was announced by the university the following night. A week later, assistant coach Josh Eilert was promoted to interim head coach for the 2023-24 season.
Campbell’s letter said the university announced Huggins’ resignation “based on a text message from Coach Huggins’ wife” to Steve Uryasz, West Virginia’s deputy athletic director.
The university responded to Campbell in a letter Saturday that read, in part: “We are frankly confused by the allegations within the letter.”
WVU said Huggins met with his players and members of the basketball staff on June 17 “to announce that he would no longer be coaching the team.” It said Huggins “clearly” communicated his resignation and retirement in writing and that “both parties have reasonably relied on that resignation and retirement notification in a number of ways since then.”
The university provided The AP with a copy of a notice sent by Huggins' wife, June, that same day. It read: “Please accept this correspondence as my formal notice of resignation as WVU Head Basketball Coach and as notice of my retirement from West Virginia University, effective immediately.”
The notice was sent from an email address associated with June Huggins, with a signature indicating it was sent via iPhone. It was sent to Uryasz's email address and did not appear to be a text message, as Campbell claimed.
West Virginia athletic director Wren Baker responded an hour later by writing, “We accept your resignation and wish you the best in retirement. We appreciate your many years of dedication to WVU.”
Less than an hour after that, the university released two statements. One announced Huggins' resignation.
The other was titled “A Message from Bob Huggins to the WVU Community” and began, “Today, I have submitted a letter to President Gordon Gee and Vice President and Director of Athletics Wren Baker informing them of my resignation and intention to retire as head men’s basketball coach at West Virginia University effective immediately.”
The resignation was announced a month after the university gave Huggins a three-game suspension for using an anti-gay slur while also denigrating Catholics during a radio interview.
Several of Huggins' players have already entered the transfer portal, and some have found new teams.
Campbell said Huggins’ contract required the coach to send a notice in writing by registered or certified mail to the athletic director and university general counsel.
Despite the threat of a lawsuit, Campbell’s letter said Huggins “does not desire litigation. Rather, he is simply looking for the correction of a clear breach of his employment agreement with WVU.”
The 69-year-old Huggins was the third-winningest coach all-time in Division I with 935 victories, trailing only Mike Krzyzewski of Duke (1,202) and Jim Boeheim of Syracuse (1,015), both of whom are retired.
Unlike the others, Huggins did not win a national title. He took Cincinnati to the Final Four in 1992 and West Virginia in 2010. Huggins entered the Basketball Hall of Fame last September. In 41 seasons, his teams went to 25 NCAA Tournaments and finished ranked in the AP top 10 seven times. The Mountaineers made 11 NCAA Tournament appearances under Huggins.
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