Editorials, Opinion

Huggins vs. WVU: A bad look for both, but worse for players, staff

The ongoing disagreement between Bob Huggins and his representatives and West Virginia University and its representatives is certainly a spectacle, to say the least. 

We won’t say who is right and who is wrong (because it looks like everyone is a little of both) and we won’t speculate as to the outcome of the dispute. 

All we’ll say is that this fight isn’t a good look for either Huggins or WVU. 

There is no denying what Huggins did: In mid-June, he drove under the influence and was caught. Pittsburgh police arrested him and, at that time, his blood alcohol content was nearly three times the legal limit, according to police. 

Even if Huggins completes the Pennsylvania program to expunge his DUI charge, it can’t erase what he did. And those actions reflected — and will continue to reflect — poorly on him, on WVU and on the state. A dignified and contrite resignation was the most anyone could ask for, especially given Huggins’ equally public blunder the month before when he called Xavier University students and fans “catholic f*gs” on a radio program. Now he’s put himself, the university and West Virginia back in the national headlines for a third time, and the coverage isn’t flattering. 

WVU, for its part, isn’t doing itself any favors in terms of PR. Losing a Hall-of-Fame coach to a series of scandals is never a good look for a college, no matter how you spin it. And the allegations that the university’s officials and lawyers mishandled Huggins’ resignation don’t reflect well on WVU’s administration or athletic programs. 

It would be one thing if the allegations were limited to not following the fine print, but Huggins’ lawyer has accused WVU of manufacturing and distributing a false public statement purportedly written by Huggins about his resignation. Even if this is proven to be untrue, just the claim itself strikes a hard blow to the university’s reputation. 

This, of course, is on top of the university’s announcement that it will begin reductions in force and will eliminate or consolidate academic programs because of a massive budget shortfall, which has put WVU under the state’s and community’s microscopes.  

This fight is guaranteed to get messy — it already has — and it’s playing out on the national stage for all of America to see. Neither Huggins nor West Virginia University will come out of this fracas with clean reputations intact — and they might just take the men’s basketball program’s reputation down with them. 

Because even after Huggins and WVU eventually settle their differences and move on, it will be the remaining men’s basketball players and coaching staff who will be haunted by this scandal for the entire season. It will come up at every game, on every broadcast, in every national article well into next year. 

If Huggins and WVU want to duke it out, that’s fine — but they shouldn’t allow anyone else to get caught in the crossfire.