West Virginia offers statement on the return of Bob Huggins
Statement from President E. Gordon Gee and Director of Athletics Wren Baker:
On Monday, May 8, Head Men's Basketball Coach Bob Huggins was interviewed on a Cincinnati radio show where he used derogatory and offensive language. It was inexcusable. It was a moment that unfairly and inappropriately hurt many people and has tarnished West Virginia University.
It is also a moment that provides the opportunity for learning. A moment that can shine a light on the injustice and hate that often befall the members of our marginalized communities. 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.
To begin, the Athletics Department will 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. This training and programming will be required of Coach Huggins and all current and future athletics coaching staff.
Next, according to the Williams Institute, West Virginia has the highest percentage of transgender youth in the nation. To address the concerns of our West Virginia youth, Coach Huggins will be required to meet with LGBTQ+ leaders from across West Virginia with guidance from the leadership of WVU's LGBTQ+ Center. We want to partner with ACLU-WV, Fairness WV, Morgantown Pride and other organizations to elevate the conversation regarding the issues that affect our state. Through those conversations, we expect Coach Huggins, in accordance with these partners, to engage in additional opportunities to show support for the LGBTQ+ community.
Coach Huggins also will be required to meet with leadership from WVU's Carruth Center to better understand the mental health crisis facing our college students, particularly those in marginalized communities. It is expected he will work with the Center and the University to raise awareness on how we can best support our students' health and well-being.
The annual compensation of Coach Huggins will be reduced by $1 million. Those dollars will be used to directly support WVU's LGBTQ+ Center, the Carruth Center and other state and national organizations that support marginalized communities. University leadership will seek input from these organizations to determine how to best utilize those funds.
We also take seriously the disparaging way in which the Catholic faith was characterized in the comments. Coach Huggins personally volunteered and WVU agrees that he will make a substantial donation to Xavier University to support its Center for Faith and Justice and its Center for Diversity and Inclusion.
In addition, the following actions have been taken because of this incident:
• Coach Huggins will be suspended for the first three regular season games of the 2023-2024 season; and
• his current employment contract will be amended from a multi-year agreement to a year-by-year agreement that will begin on May 10, 2023, and end on April 30, 2024.
• We have made it explicitly clear to Coach Huggins that any incidents of similar derogatory and offensive language will result in immediate termination.
We will never truly know the damage that has been done by the words said in those 90 seconds. Words matter and they can leave scars that can never be seen. But words can also heal. And by taking this moment to learn more about another's perspective, speak respectfully and lead with understanding, perhaps the words "do better" will lead to meaningful change for all.
E. Gordon Gee
President, West Virginia University
Vice President and Director of WVU Athletics
Huggins also released his own statement.
Over the past 48 hours, I have reflected on the awful words that I shared on a radio program earlier this week. I deeply regret my actions, the hurt they unfairly caused others and the negative attention my words have brought to West Virginia University.
I also regret the embarrassment and disappointment it has caused our Athletics family, members of our campus community and the state of West Virginia. I am sorry for the hurt and distress I have caused our students and our student-athletes. I represent more than just our University and our basketball program, and it pains me to know that I have let so many people down.
I have no excuse for the language I used, and I take full responsibility. I will abide with the actions outlined by the University and Athletics leadership to learn from this incident. I have had several conversations with colleagues and friends that I deeply respect and admire over the last 24 hours, and I am keenly aware of the pain that I have caused. I meant what I wrote on Monday - I will do better.
I am looking forward to working with WVU’s LGBTQ+ Center and other state organizations to learn more about the issues facing the community. As a leader, I am eager to use my platform to take what I learn and share it with a broader audience.
I also regret my comments regarding Xavier University. I am hopeful that my personal donation to the university to support its Center for Faith and Justice and its Center for Diversity and Inclusion will further the work it does and the impact it has on its students.
West Virginia and West Virginia University are my home. I love this University and know first-hand that the education and experiences students receive here make a difference. I am truly sorry for the damage I have done. And I am grateful for the chance to move forward in a way that positively represents this University and our state.
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