Longtime West Virginia University basketball coach Bob Huggins appeared on a morning radio show on Monday in Cincinnati, where he disparaged his former crosstown rival in the Queen City, Catholic Xavier University.
He called the school’s fans “Catholic f*gs.”
Calling in to The Bill Cunningham Show on Newsradio 700 WLW, Huggins, 69, joined the host and a second guest, Steve Mueller, discussing the Hall of Famer’s scouting for West Virginia, where he’s been head coach since 2007. Prior to that post, Huggins headed the basketball program at the University of Cincinnati for 16 seasons.
Asked by Cunningham about scouting prospects from his former intercity nemesis, Huggins replied, “Catholics don’t do that.”
“I tell you what,” Huggins continued, “any school that can throw rubber penises on the floor and then say they didn’t do it, by God, they can get away with anything.”
Cunningham can then be heard adding, over the laughter, “It was Transgender Night, wasn’t it?”
Huggins continues: “It was a crosstown shootout. Yeah. No, what it was, was all those f*gs, those Catholic f*gs, I think is what it was.”
“Alright,” Cunningham interjects laughing after an excruciating moment of silence but before Huggins throws in, “They were envious they didn’t have one,” referring to the tossed rubber penises.
Cunningham then coaxes Mueller, a former assistant coach for Huggins, to call Huggins “the best.”
And the worst moment in Huggins’ career was over.
He later tweeted an apology.
“Earlier today on a Cincinnati radio program, I was asked about the rivalry between my former employer, the University of Cincinnati, and its crosstown rival, Xavier University,” the statement read.
“During the conversation, I used a completely insensitive and abhorrent phrase that there is simply no excuse for – and I won’t try to make one here. I deeply apologize to the individuals I have offended, as well as to the Xavier University community, the University of Cincinnati, and West Virginia University. As I have shared with my players over my 40 years of coaching, there are consequences for our words and actions, and I will fully accept [anything] coming my way. I am ashamed and embarrassed and heartbroken for those I have hurt. I must do better, and I will.”
It just may not be while he’s coaching the Mountaineers.
The track record for high-profile sports figures using the f-slur and surviving to play, coach, or comment is poor, a fact Huggins is well aware of.
In 2020, Thom Brennaman, play-by-play announcer for the Cincinnati Reds, a Fox NFL host, and a friend of Huggins, was caught on a hot mic calling San Francisco “one of the f*g capitals of the world.”
Not long after, Brennaman lost both his jobs, and Huggins invited him to atone with his team.
Huggins tweeted after: “I want to thank my friend Thom Brennaman for traveling over to Morgantown and speaking to the team. His message isn’t one of excuses but one of accountability. It takes courage to confront mistakes head on and I believe our guys learned that from his time with us.”
Now Huggins awaits a formal response from West Virginia University after the school put out a pro forma statement addressing the coach’s “insensitive, offensive” remarks.
“The situation is under review and will be addressed by the university and its athletic department,” the university wrote.
Monday night, Huggins skipped a school fundraising event.
“He had a conflict and won’t be able to attend tonight,” West Virginia’s athletic director, Wren Baker, told local reporters.
Huggins was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2022 and is West Virginia alumnus with over 900 career wins in his division. In 2010, he lead the Mountaineers to the Final Four, their first appearance in that bracket since the 1950s.
In the same interview that may end his career, the host talks about uncharitable remarks Huggins once made about him, saying they must have been taken out of context.
“I don’t know,” replies Huggins, “I don’t know. It must have been my thoughts at the time.”
There were laughs all around.