Ben Queen/MetroNews photo

A West Virginia fan looks on from the upper level during last season’s game against Purdue.


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — After a Q-and-A session in which he offered reassurances that transfers won’t wreck the program, West Virginia basketball coach Bob Huggins issued a walk-off assessment that modernizing the WVU Coliseum will be crucial to attracting and keeping talent.

“If we really want to move forward, if we really want to become a national presence on a yearly basis, that needs to happen,” Huggins said. “Otherwise we’re going to continue to be pretty much what we are. Can we be really good sometimes? Yeah. Can we do it on a consistent basis without (the upgrades)?”

“The reality is the Coliseum is 44 years old and has never really had a makeover. I’m not one of those people who say we need a new arena. We don’t need a new arena, but we do need to do some things—and I think some significant things—in the Coliseum.”

Saturday’s hastily scheduled news conference came a day after sophomore guard Terry Henderson announced he would transfer, following fellow double-digit scorer Eron Harris out of town and leaving Huggins without his top two perimeter shooters.

While attributing player departures to college basketball’s transfer-happy culture, Huggins emphasized that potential recruits, and even current players, are enticed by arena photos they share across social media. That doesn’t bode well for the Coliseum, which lacks even basic fan amenities and seems dated in comparison to many arenas at major programs.

“We need to modernize, because you’ve got guys going to different places and taking pictures and Tweeting them,” Huggins said. “Don’t think that those things don’t play into (recruiting). … We need to do some things. In fact, we need to do a lot of things.”

Precisely what things could become a point of debate as the athletics department prioritizes projects for a $106 million campus-wide renovation. A chunk of that money is earmarked for football, and Oliver Luck recently noted the only for-certain Coliseum upgrades involve widened concourses, remodeled bathrooms and less-congested concession areas. He specifically said there were no current plans for the luxury suites Huggins desires.

Yet there was Huggins holding up a rendering of the suites to the media, and thanking Luck for raising revenue to provide them. Asked about whether there was actually a timetable for constructing suites or even a firm commitment to building them, Huggins replied: “It is, at the very least, a very hot topic in the conversation.”

Huggins seemed keenly aware that he was airing his arena grievances inside a $24-million practice facility that opened only three years ago. “This facility here is phenomenal,” he said, “and it’s been very well received by everyone who came in here.” Now the coach wants the concrete-domed coliseum that sits across Gale Catlett Drive to receive its own rejuvenation in order to impress players and enhance the fans’ experience.

“I’m happy that Oliver has been able to secure the money needed to do that, and we need it bad,” he said. “I’m very happy that we have secured funds that a good portion of, I would hope, would end up where it’s supposed to go—in the basketball program.”

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  • Geewhiz

    That is what Huggins said about the new practice facility. Thats been open for 3 years now and NO significant recruiting edge was gained from that. Big Bob, win some games then come with your wish list in hand. And its a $23 million practice facility. When they started out it was an $11 million facility. Thats over a 100% cost overrun. I wonder who owns the construction company that built this?

    • Hersh

      And, for the record, Bob Huggins went out and personally raised $25 million in funds privately so that he could get what was needed and the BBPF would be done right the first time. You act as if it's some taxpayer funded boondoggle. Don't let the facts get in your way, though.

    • Hersh

      Yeah, let's wait until Geewhiz thinks the wins and losses bar has been reached and is fully satisfied before upgrading any of the Coliseum's facilities. That's certainly how it works in big-time college athletics. I'm sure the rest of the Big 12 and the other power conference programs will wait for us. That's some highbrow athletics administration right there. Thank God some of you people aren't making these decisions and we have some people who care enough to push us into the 21st century.

      Give me a break. The Coliseum and many of the other facilities have been neglected so badly in so many areas for so long, it's embarrassing. We're hundreds of restroom units and dozens of concession POS's short of federal standards and we still have frickin' ASBESTOS in the building! Are you kidding me?! I always supported Ed, but that is an absolute joke.

      Thank goodness this administration was able to get us into a legitimate league where we can now easily afford to start really doing what should've been done long ago in many cases. Besides, there are no guarantees that we'll be in the Big 12 forever. If we ever have to sell ourselves again in realignment, it is vital that we have competitive facilities and infrastructure. Again, thank goodness we're not leaving these decisions up to some of you geniuses.

  • Ron - from Morgantown

    If the 23m practice facility isn't enough to differentiate and add value to the program I don't know what will . In a perfect world I guess suites would be nice , I know I like to watch games from them but I don't know if they are a recruiting tool. The whole news conference smelled of damage control ( a May news conference for basketball is unusual if not unprecedented ) which isn't necessarily a bad thing given the sudden loss of Harris and Henderson . Given the current state of arenas for basketball (including practice facilities ) in the B12 , Wvu actually is better off than most and is certainly competitive enough to attract players to win games . Facilities for basketball are not a hindrance to recruiting the best athletes avaible .

    • Hersh

      Wrong. The practice facility is great. The Coliseum is a dump compared to just about every other school in the conference and it's a legal liability.

      Hundreds of restroom fixtures short of federal standards? Check.

      Dozens of concessions short of federal standards? Check.

      44 year old wobbly seats that were discontinued long ago to the point you can't even repair them? Check.

      Asbestos? Check.

      Concourses that are a fire marshall's worst nightmare, nevermind functional for fan enjoyment? Check.

      We're not talking lavish here. Some of you guys need to wake up. It's the Big frickin' 12!

  • Ron - from Morgantown

    I go back and forth when assessing the current state of affairs of the basketball program . Coach Huggins is a Hall of Fame coach , former player and native of West Va . So he has a lot of built up capital and thus he gets a pass on the short term lack of success on the court ( and for players who appear in court ) . However I also want to be intellectually honest when discussing the trend of instability over at the Coliseum. One thing that will be particularly interesting to watch - because it will tell me a lot about the current mindset of Huggins - will be how he handles the two open spots on the roster ( Dibo ) . He needs to act judicially and not act out of desperation as he attempts to find players . He has the stature as a hall of fame coach to endure a few more disappointing seasons as he reloads and prepares Wvu to be competitive for the next decade . That would be a fitting legacy for a native son and hall of fame coach . But that's not the way its going to play out unfortunately . Huggins wants to win now and doesn't have the time or patience to cultivate and nurture freshman into program building players. Here is where I disagree with him because there are only a hand full of players ( maybe 10 ) currently available who can contribute and make an impact immediately . I fear he will act out of desperation and further put the program in peril and as such will make the rebuilding even tougher to achieve . Mr Huggins because of your proven success you have the time to rebuild the program into a top 25 team , take your time and find the best players for the long term - West Virginia has your back.

  • Master of One

    Huggins is a master of redirecting the attention away from the real problem...

    It went from two (2) starters leaving the program to..."We need to make upgrades to the Coliseum"

    And once again...everyone's attention is diverted and they start drinking the Kool-Aid.

    Yes...Huggins is truly the master...

    We are so lucky to have him here at WVU...

  • Holgie

    Man, how much longer is going to take to see that Huggs has not only lost the team but he's loosing fans in droves. And the university just sits back and watches it all happen. Unbelievable.

  • GG1974

    One name:

    Jeff Neubauer
    Basketball coach

    • John

      Agree with you. He should be considered as the next coach; however, I am not ready to throw Huggs away at this time. He has enough credibility where he should be given time to get this straightened out but we desparately need shooters from the outside. Every team we play seems to have at least one that buries shot after shot against us.

  • mike

    boy Huggs, you sure changed your tune. What happened to we're going to win and win big? How about we won't have to change our style, the big 12 will have to change for us? Now you are just reaching for excuses! Until you cut your staff loose and get some young hungry recruiters we will have more of the same. It's a shame we fans have been saying the same thing the last few years, but nothing changes. You are to loyal to your staff, and not WVU.

  • JL

    If you buy that the Coliseum is the problem you will buy anything! Get real Bob. How does Duke do it year in and year out at Cameron Indoor Stadium?


      WVU is not Duke, Sir.

    • AppiKid

      First let me say, I admire Huggs for his achievements! And He is a native son! But darn, have you watched him during games? And most importantly, have you really watched the press conferences? I turn them off after a minute or so! Boring and the same ole thing! Kids want to see some excitement and some class! The sweat suits, the same old mumbling! Darn it bores me and I am 54! Love ya Coach but darn! But darn it I can't stand to listen to your press! I have followed you thru your career, and you are the best, BUT? You figure the rest out!

  • ron

    He can not cuss and scream on tv or the locker at these young men. He has passed his prime but I am sure he does not know it. That is what we have Mr lick for.
    the longer we wait the we go down, down, down

  • Robin

    Luck said, "Fans expect more."

    Fans will meet in a field in the middle of nowhere if you produce a winner. That is what fans want.

    Players want to be on a winner too. They want to be on TV. They want a chance to go to the NBA. So what is WVU's recent history? Long term history?

    Sorry it takes more than a fancy car to produce a winner. You need a good driver too.

  • FNP

    Parking is what it is. Fans will complain about everything when things aren't up to par. Huggs has had 2 bad years at WVU and they are ready to throw him out. Haha what a joke.

    Fans need to realize that kids these days are add soft and spoiled. They can't handle discipline and criticism. No ability to deal with adversity. I'm surprised they aren't trying to sue Huggs for playing time.

    • Hersh

      Exactly. It's beyond absurd that some of these people would fire a HOF coach under these circumstances. Not only have these players become entitled, some of these "fans" think they're running a fantasy league team, hiring and firing personnel when the mood strikes 'em. It's a joke.

      Who needs facilities anyway? It's like some of these folks have never been anywhere else.


      Exactly the same way in the business world. You can not supervise the unsupervisable !

  • Big Jim slate

    How about a parking garage or at least an overhead walkway between the CAC and coliseum parking lot. The capital of Nebraska is Lincoln

  • Michael

    I'm a Huggins fan but it's time we start looking at a change I don't think he can relate to kids now a days and he sure can't keep them here for a guy who's making 3 million a year not getting into the NIT isn't good enough

  • Billy

    I can just see Harris and Henderson texting each other. Harris. This building has not been updated in 44 years, I can't play in a place this old.
    Henderson, I feel your pain, I'm out of here too.
    Why worry about better recruits when you can't keep the ones that have been starters.

    • Chris1529

      The lack of facilities may be on thing that keeps more top recruits from considering WVU, but it won't keep smart, hard working young players who want to come to a div 1 school from considering it. We need smarter players from smaller schools and not try to recruit players from big markets that can hardly quality.

    • mike

      esp. since we have the "best practice facility in the nation"

  • Picklebee

    And not at $20.00 a game.