Huggins Wanted His Office Back, Emeritus Head Coach Position

Bob Huggins at the 2023 NCAA Tournament.
Photo/Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Last month, West Virginia University firmly rejected an attempt by former basketball coach Bob Huggins to get his job back by claiming that he never really resigned.  WVU forced Huggins to resign after he was arrested in Pittsburgh June 16th for drunk driving.

“In no uncertain terms, the University will not accept Mr. Huggins’ revocation of his resignation, nor will it reinstate him as head coach of the men’s basketball program,” wrote WVU Vice President and General Counsel Stephanie Taylor to Huggins’ Cleveland attorney David Campbell.

But that was not the end of the back and forth between WVU and Huggins’ attorney, and documents obtained by MetroNews through a Freedom of Information Act request reveal new information about the ongoing correspondence.

Campbell followed up with an email on July 11th with a “settlement demand.”  Campbell wrote that Huggins would agree to resign if certain terms were met. Those terms included:

–Payment of $1.25 million in deferred compensation in two installments.

–Payment of Huggins’ health insurance benefits until April 30, 2024.

–Installation of Huggins as “Emeritus Head Coach” for three years to fund raise and consult, with his payment to be negotiated.

–Allowing Huggins to return to his old office.

–Agreeing to mutual non-disparagement, so neither Huggins nor WVU would say bad things about the other.

–Agreeing to a joint statement “to publicly resolve this dispute.”

Taylor responded three days later that WVU agreed that “an amicable resolution to this matter is in everyone’s best interests.”  However, Taylor said WVU rejected Huggins’ request for the Emeritus Coach role and the request for his old office back.

“Mr. Huggins now needs to respect Coach (Josh) Eilert and the University and realize that it is in everyone’s best interest for our current and future coaches to develop the program as they see fit, free from any perception that Mr. Huggins is exhibiting any control over the program,” Taylor wrote.

WVU did leave open an opportunity for Huggins to have an “ambassador type role” at WVU, but only after three years have passed and only if he complies with certain terms. Those terms include:

–Huggins’ acknowledgment that he did resign and that he will never again argue otherwise.

–A promise to never seek the WVU coaching job again or “interfere with WVU Athletics administration and the men’s basketball team, including any of its coaches or players.”

–A commitment to take no action that would have any negative impacts at WVU or control over the men’s basketball program.

WVU did agree to a mutual non-disparagement codicil, and was willing to pay Huggins the $1.25 million he was due for deferred salary on an expedited basis. The university followed up a couple days later, indicating that it intended to process the deferred compensation Huggins was owed, per the retirement provision of his existing agreement.

Huggins’ attorney responded on July 17th with a brief and vague email: “Coach Huggins is not going to sign any documents at this time due to lack of consideration so we will have to move forward with the pay structure under the Amendment to the Employment Agreement,” wrote Campbell. “We will give you advance notice of the next steps.”

WVU officials were left to try to interpret what that meant, and according to the FOIA documents, there has been no further communication on what those “next steps” might be.

What the most recent communications show is that Huggins still wants an active role in the WVU basketball program, while WVU wants to keep the former coach at arm’s length and require him to meet certain terms for him to return in some capacity in the future.

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