Bob Huggins claims he never resigned as West Virginia basketball coach, accusing the university of making a “false statement” saying heafter a drunk driving arrest last month.
“I am employed by WVU under an employment contract,” Huggins said in a statement Monday. “I never submitted the notice required under the employment contract to voluntarily resign.”
Huggins was arrested in Pittsburgh on June 16 after failing a field sobriety test. The following day, the school’s president and athletics director released a joint statement saying that the 69-year-old coach “has notified us of his intention to retire and submitted his letter of resignation, and we have accepted it in light of recent events.”
West Virginia University also released a statement purportedly written by Huggins himself.
“My recent actions do not represent the university’s values or leadership expected in this role,” the statement said. “Although I’ve always tried to represent our university with honor, I’ve failed all of you — and myself.”
Huggins challenged the authenticity of that statement on Monday.
“I did not draft or review WVU’s statement,” Huggins said. “This false statement was sent under my name, but it has no signature.”
Huggins said he is in a “world-class rehabilitation facility” where he will remain “until I am cleared to resume my active coaching duties.”
The university had informed Huggins’ attorney, David A. Campbell, in a letter Saturday that “the university will not, in no uncertain terms, accept Mr. Huggins’ renewal of his resignation, nor will it reinstate him as head coach of the men’s basketball program.” On Monday, the university issued another response, saying that Huggins’ letter was baseless and that any claim he had not resigned is “frivolous.”
Huggins said he informed the university that he was seeking rehabilitation, but that WVU “wasn’t willing to talk to me about the Pittsburgh event, nor to give me time to seek advice to review my employment contract. .”
Huggins said he met his players the day his resignation was announced and “let them know the truth – that I didn’t know what would happen to me, but that if I wasn’t their coach I hoped I would become replaced by a coach I recommended to WVU.”
The university has said that Huggins met with his players and staff “to announce he would no longer coach the team”.
Huggins said now that he’s gotten an attorney to review his contract and seen the university’s comments about his current status, “it’s clear WVU hasn’t handled the situation the right way. More importantly, the basketball program is in need and I have a strong desire to finish my career as a head basketball coach for the program I love. I hope to meet with WVU in the near future to resolve this situation.”
Campbell wrote to Stephanie Taylor, WVU’s vice president and general counsel, on Sunday asking for a meeting to discuss “an amicable resolution to this dispute.” Taylor responded Monday that the university stood by its position and will not reinstate Huggins, but she asked in writing for a detailed version of Campbell’s proposal before scheduling such a meeting.
On Friday, Campbell wrote that the announcement of the university’s resignation was “based on a text from Coach Huggins’ wife” to West Virginia deputy athletic director Steve Uryasz. That same day, the university provided The Associated Press with a copy of a message sent by Huggins’s wife, June. The message was sent from an email address associated with June Huggins, with a signature indicating that it was sent from 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 well in retirement. We appreciate your years of dedication to WVU.”
Huggins’ supposed firing came after the school had afor his use of a during a job interview. His salary was also cut by $1 million and his contract would have to be renewed annually, the university said at the time.
The 69-year-old Huggins was the third-winning coach of all time in Division I with 935 wins, behind only Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (1,202) and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim (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.