Weeks after Bob Huggins announced his resignation after an arrest for drunk driving, an attorney for the former West Virginia men’s basketball coach claims he never officially resigned last month and said Huggins will sue the university if he doesn’t immediately be reinstated.
In response, the university, which last month announced the hiring of longtime assistant Josh Eilert as interim coach, said it would not be rehiring Huggins and would defend itself against any “false accusations”.
Last month, Huggins announced his retirement with a statement saying that “the recent actions do not reflect the university’s values or the leadership expected in this role” after he was charged in Pittsburgh with driving under the influence and having a blood alcohol content of 100%. arrested was 0.21%, nearly three times the legal limit. The arrest came nearly six weeks after Huggins used a homophobic slur during a radio interview that resulted in a three-game ban and a $1 million pay cut.
However, according to documents released by the university on Saturday, Huggins’ legal team on Friday sent a letter to Gordon Gee, the president of WVU, saying Huggins had never officially resigned. The letter also said Huggins entered rehab following his arrest last month and intends to return to his post as head coach once the program is complete.
David A. Campbell, an attorney representing Huggins, said in his letter seen by ESPN that Huggins’ resignation correspondence with the school came not from him but from his wife, June Huggins. Campbell claims Huggins never gave WVU a “formal” resignation.
“Based on press statements, WVU appears to hold the position that Coach Huggins voluntarily resigned and terminated his contract of employment prior to April 30, 2024 (the date his current contract was scheduled to expire),” Campbell wrote. “Although the press releases claim that these are resignation communications directly from Coach Huggins to you and/or the sporting director, Coach Huggins has never communicated his resignation to you, the sporting director or anyone at WVU. On the contrary, we understand that the alleged “resignation” is incredibly based on a text message from Coach Huggins’ wife.”
The university on Saturday released an email sent from an account owned by “June Huggins” – Huggins’ wife – to athletic director Wren Baker on the day the head coach announced his retirement, which read: “Please accept this correspondence as my formal “notification of my resignation as head basketball coach of WVU and my resignation from West Virginia University, effective immediately.”
The school also said it has had ongoing discussions with Huggins’ legal representatives – not Campbell – in recent weeks, which suggest the former coach has understood he has stepped down and even outlined the next steps Discussed resignation and retirement with Bob Fitzsimmons and James “Rocky” Gianola, two attorneys who represented the former West Virginia coach as recently as Friday.
“The conflicting communications and correspondence from various attorneys on behalf of Mr. Huggins leave the University in the dark as to its next steps: to continue working with Mr. Fitzsimmons on joint resignation/retirement benefits for a former University employee and as set forth in Mr. Huggins or on unsubstantiated letters of formal notice and possible frivolous litigation that you have brought up,” said Stephanie D. Taylor, vice president and general counsel for West Virginia, in a letter to Campbell.
In his letter to West Virginia, Campbell said the school could either reinstate Huggins after a “breach of contract” or engage in litigation.
“Had WVU simply waited a weekend and looked at the (DUI) situation with the benefit of speaking to Coach Huggins, we would be confident that WVU would have chosen a different route,” Campbell’s letter reads. “Regardless of WVU’s reasons for reaching this point, however, WVU faces the following choice: (1) reinstate Coach Huggins to his position as head basketball coach once the rehabilitation program is complete under the clear terms of the employment contract; or (2) continue to be in breach of the employment contract and face litigation. The litigation will concern not only breach of contract of employment, but also WVU’s clear violation of state and federal law in firing Coach Huggins without due process or even an interview to establish the contract of employment true facts, not those provided by be reported to the media.”
The school responded, saying it would not reinstate Huggins, who had won 935 games in his career.
“Regardless of any reaction, and without a doubt, the university will not accept Mr. Huggins’ resignation or reinstatement as the head coach of the men’s basketball program,” Taylor’s letter said. “Furthermore, if Mr Huggins or his attorney attempts to publicly indicate that for whatever reason he has not resigned and has resigned from office, please be informed that the University will swiftly and aggressively defend itself against these false allegations. “
News of Huggins’ decision and Campbell’s letter was first reported by wvmetronews.com.