West Virginia Basketball Coach Bob Huggins Under Fire for Homophobic Slur, Faces Consequences and Calls for Education

West Virginia University basketball coach Bob Huggins has come under fire after using a homophobic slur multiple times during a radio interview on Monday.[0] Huggins made the comments while discussing the rivalry between his former employer, the University of Cincinnati, and its crosstown rival, Xavier University. While recalling an incident in which “rubber penises” were thrown on the court during a Crosstown Shootout game between the two teams, Huggins used the anti-gay slur to describe the individuals responsible for the act.[1] The comments were made during a segment called the “Stooge Report” on WLW-AM (700) talk show with host Bill Cunningham.[2]

Following the incident, the university released a statement condemning Huggins' remarks. “Coach Huggins' remarks today on a Cincinnati radio show were insensitive, offensive and do not represent our University values,” the statement read.[3] The use of such language is not condoned by West Virginia University and actions to address it are taken with utmost seriousness.[3] The University and its athletics department are currently reviewing the situation and will take necessary actions.[0]

In response to the incident, Huggins issued a public apology for his comments.[3] “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,” Huggins wrote in a post.[4] “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.”[5]

The university has announced that Huggins will be suspended for the first three games of the 2023-24 season, and his multi-year deal has now gone to a year-to-year situation.[6] If he uses language that is similar, he could face instant termination.[7] Additionally, Huggins' salary will be reduced by $1 million, and the money will be donated to support WVU's LGBTQ+ Center, the Carruth Center, and other state and national organizations supporting marginalized communities.[8]

In addition, Huggins must attend meetings with LGBTQ+ representatives from across the state, as well as leaders from WVU's Carruth Center. The goal is to partner with ACLU-WV, Fairness WV, Morgantown Pride, and other organizations to elevate conversation regarding issues affecting West Virginia.[9] During those conversations, Huggins is anticipated to participate in further initiatives to demonstrate solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.

The school says Huggins and all athletics department will also “partner with WVU's LGBTQ+ Center to develop annual training sessions that will address all aspects of inequality including homophobia, transphobia, sexism, ableism, and more.”[8] Huggins and all other athletics coaching staff will need to complete the training curriculum.[8]

In a statement, the university said that while it does not condone the language used by Huggins, it will use the moment as an opportunity to educate on how the casual use of inflammatory language and implicit bias affect the university's culture, community, and well-being.

“It is also a moment that provides the opportunity for learning,” the statement read.[6] “A moment that can shine a light on the injustice and hate that often befall the members of our marginalized communities.[10] While the University has never and will never condone the language used on Monday, we will use this moment to educate how the casual use of inflammatory language and implicit bias affect our culture, our community and our health and well-being.”

In addition to his suspension and salary reduction, Huggins will be required to meet with LGBTQ+ leaders from across the state of West Virginia along with leadership from WVU's Carruth Center to “better understand the mental health crisis facing our college students, particularly those in marginalized communities.”

The university has also announced that Huggins will make a personal donation to Xavier University to support its Center for Faith and Justice and its Center for Diversity and Inclusion. The statement went on to say, “I deeply apologize for my remarks about Xavier University.”[11] “I am hopeful that my personal donation to the university will further the work it does and the impact it has on its students.”[11]

The incident has sparked a conversation about the use of offensive language and the need for education and understanding on issues affecting marginalized communities. While Huggins has apologized and taken steps to make amends, the incident serves as a reminder of the harm that can be caused by careless words and the importance of taking responsibility for one's actions.

0. “WVU reviewing incident after Huggins uses anti-gay slur on air – ESPN” ESPN, 8 May. 2023, https://www.espn.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/37571594/wvu-reviewing-incident-huggins-uses-anti-gay-slur-air

1. “West Virginia fines, suspends Bob Huggins after anti-gay slur” Yahoo Sports, 10 May. 2023, https://sports.yahoo.com/west-virginia-fines-suspends-bob-huggins-after-anti-gay-slur-145303051.html

2. “Bob Huggins issues second apology for slur, makes donation to Xavier” The Cincinnati Enquirer, 10 May. 2023, https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2023/05/10/bob-huggins-issues-second-apology-makes-donation-xavier/70204883007/

3. “West Virginia’s men’s basketball head coach apologizes for ‘insensitive and abhorrent’ comments made on radio interview” CNN, 9 May. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/05/09/sport/west-virginia-basketball-head-coach-apologizes-spt-intl/index.html

4. “Opinion: Bill Cunningham deserves same fate as Bob Huggins” WVXU, 9 May. 2023, https://www.wvxu.org/media/2023-05-09/opinion-bill-cunningham-deserves-same-fate-bob-huggins-wlw-am-tvkiese

5. “Bob Huggins' slurs cut deep amid tense time for LGBTQ community. And he's reportedly paying a hefty price for it” Yahoo Sports, 10 May. 2023, https://sports.yahoo.com/bob-huggins-slurs-cut-deep-amid-tense-time-for-lgbtq-community-and-hes-reportedly-paying-a-hefty-price-for-it-173712532.html

6. “Huggins hit with suspension, pay reduction following offensive comments” WTAP, 10 May. 2023, https://www.wtap.com/2023/05/10/huggins-hit-with-suspension-pay-reduction-following-offensive-comments

7. “Xavier president rips Bob Huggins for calling university's fans ‘Catholic f–s'” Fox News, 10 May. 2023, https://www.foxnews.com/sports/xavier-president-rips-bob-huggins-calling-universitys-fans-catholic-f-s

8. “West Virginia suspends Bob Huggins for 3 games, reduces salary $1 million for anti-gay slurs” The Athletic, 10 May. 2023, https://theathletic.com/4506278/2023/05/10/bob-huggins-west-virginia-suspension-contract/

9. “Huggins facing suspension, salary reduction for use of homophobic slur” West Virginia MetroNews, 10 May. 2023, https://wvmetronews.com/2023/05/10/huggins-facing-suspension-salary-reduction-for-use-of-homophobic-slur/

10. “Bob Huggins controversy, explained: West Virginia coach keeps job after calling Xavier fans homophobic slur” Sporting News, 10 May. 2023, https://www.sportingnews.com/us/ncaa-basketball/news/bob-huggins-west-virginia-coach-xavier-homophobic-slur/ilhpfrfsezdbkk0zq5xdiisn

11. “Bob Huggins suspended 3 games, takes $1M salary reduction after using homophobic slur” Fox News, 10 May. 2023, https://www.foxnews.com/sports/bob-huggins-suspended-3-games-takes-1m-salary-reduction-using-homophobic-slur

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