West Virginia University Takes Action Against Homophobic Slurs Used by Basketball Coach Bob Huggins
West Virginia University basketball coach Bob Huggins issued an apology on Monday after using homophobic slurs to describe Xavier University fans during an appearance on a Cincinnati radio show. Huggins followed up with a new statement on Wednesday, expressing his regret for the hurt and negative attention caused by his words. In addition to his apology, West Virginia University announced that all coaches will be required to attend annual training sessions centered around aspects of inequality, and Huggins himself will meet with LGBTQ+ leaders from across the state of West Virginia to partner with them. The university’s athletics department will also partner with the university’s LGBTQ+ Center to develop annual training sessions that will address all aspects of inequality including homophobia, transphobia, sexism, ableism, and more, which will be required of Huggins and all current and future athletics coaching staff.
Huggins’ remarks were described as insensitive, offensive, and repulsive by Xavier University president, Colleen Hanycz, who commented, “To those in our Xavier family who were directly targeted and harmed by these hateful words, be assured that you are invaluable members of our Xavier family and you belong here. Your presence makes us better.” Huggins has been suspended for the first three games of the 2023-2024 season, and his salary will be reduced by $1 million. His contract will also be changed from a multi-year agreement to a year-by-year agreement starting May 10, 2023, and ending April 30, 2024. The use of similar language could result in his immediate termination.
Huggins developed his hatred for Xavier during his time as the head coach at Cincinnati from 1989-2005 before jumping to Kansas State and then to West Virginia. With a career 935-414 overall record, Huggins has the most wins among all active coaches and has made two Final Fours. However, his use of homophobic slurs has brought negative attention to West Virginia University and forced the university to take action to address inequality and implicit bias. In a statement, the university’s president and athletic director said, “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.”
By partnering with the university’s LGBTQ+ Center to develop annual training sessions, the athletics department is taking a proactive stance on addressing inequality in all its forms. By requiring all current and future athletics coaching staff to complete the training and programming, the university is ensuring that its coaches are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all. It remains to be seen what impact this incident will have on Huggins’ future as head coach, but the university’s response shows that they are taking this situation seriously and are committed to creating a more inclusive and welcoming community for all.
0. “Bob Huggins suspended, sees salary reduced following comments made on Cincinnati radio show” WLWT Cincinnati, 10 May. 2023, https://www.wlwt.com/article/bob-huggins-homophobic-slur-suspended-contract-amended-wvu/43850589
1. “Bob Huggins to make ‘substantial donation’ to Xavier after anti-gay slur” FOX19, 10 May. 2023, https://www.fox19.com/2023/05/10/bob-huggins-west-virginia-make-decision-his-return-following-anti-gay-comments-report/
2. “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
3. “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
4. “West Virginia coach Bob Huggins uses homophobic slur referring to Xavier fans in radio interview” CBS Sports, 9 May. 2023, https://www.cbssports.com/college-basketball/news/west-virginia-coach-bob-huggins-uses-homophobic-slur-referring-to-xavier-fans-in-radio-interview
5. “Bob Huggins Loses $1M In Salary After Using Slur” Front Office Sports, 10 May. 2023, https://frontofficesports.com/report-bob-huggins-loses-1m-in-salary-after-using-slur
6. “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/