Shortly after the audio was posted online Monday, and West Virginia coach Bob Huggins' career was suddenly very much up in the air because he used a homophobic slur twice on live radio in a shockingly casual way, something the Naismith Memorial Hall of Famer tweeted in November 2020 started circulating.
It was a tweet about Thom Brennaman.
Brennaman was, back in 2020, the television play-by-play voice of the Cincinnati Reds and a lead announcer on NFL games for Fox. He was a big deal, an accomplished guy. But in August 2020, while working a game between the Reds and Royals, Brennaman was caught on a hot microphone calling San Francisco "one of the f-g capitals of the world," using a homophobic slur.
Very quickly, he lost those jobs. Then, just three months later, Huggins had Brennaman speak to his team.
Here's what Huggins subsequently tweeted:
I want to thank my friend Thom Brennaman for traveling over to Morgantown and speaking to the team. His message isn't one of excuses but one of accountability. It takes courage to confront mistakes head on and I believe our guys learned that from his time with us. pic.twitter.com/53zSpOPS4M— Bob Huggins (@CoachHuggs) November 21, 2020
What that tweet illustrates is that if anybody should've had a proper understanding of what saying that word publicly can do to a career, it should've been the guy whose friend lost his career after accidentally saying that word on air. But there was Bob Huggins, live on radio Monday, twice Xavier fans as "Catholic f--s."-- not accidentally but actually very intentionally -- while referring to
Huggins released an apology after the audio created headlines.
"On a Cincinnati radio program, I was asked about the rivalry between my former employer, the University of Cincinnati, and its crosstown rival, Xavier University," Huggins tweeted. "During the conversation, I used a completely insensitive and abhorrent phrase that there is simply no excuse for -- and I won't try to make one here. I deeply apologize to the individuals I have offended, as well as to the Xavier University community, the University of Cincinnati and West Virginia University. As I have shared with my players over my 40 years of coaching, there are consequences for our words and actions, and I will fully accept any coming my way. I am ashamed and embarrassed and heartbroken for those I have hurt. I must do better, and I will."
I still have questions.
Huggins has been speaking publicly for roughly four decades and has to know it's not OK to use that word, if only because his friend lost his career using that word less than three years ago -- so why on Earth did he use that word twice on live radio? (It clearly wasn't a slip-up because, again, he said it not once but twice.) Had he been drinking? Did he not know he was on air? Exactly what led to Huggins twice saying that word on radio?
Unfortunately, we might never get a full explanation because any explanation would be interpreted by some as an excuse, and Huggins said he's uninterested in making any excuses. So what's done is done, the apology has been released, and now we'll all just wait to see how West Virginia University officials, who have already said the situation is "is under review," respond.
Will Huggins be suspended?
Or will his status as a legend in the sport of college basketball, and an icon in the state of West Virginia, allow him to continue his highly decorated, but also controversial, head-coaching career that dates to 1980 and features more wins at the Division I level than any other coach in history not named Mike Krzyzewski or Jim Boeheim has accumulated. I'll stop short of making a prediction -- but, yeah, it's totally reasonable to assume this might really be it, that Bob Huggins might soon join the list of coaches who lost their high-profile jobs not for losing too many games, but for doing or saying something away from the court that you simply cannot do or say.