Huggins, 69, was being interviewed by Cincinnati radio host Bill Cunningham on WLW when he was asked about an incident in which Xavier fans threw sex toys onto the floor during a game against University of Cincinnati back when Huggins coached the Bearcats.
“Any school that can throw rubber penises on the floor and then say they didn’t do it, my God, they can get away with anything,” Huggins said.
Cunningham quipped, “I think it was ‘transgender night,’ wasn’t it?” That prompted the response from Huggins that some say could end his tenure in Morgantown.
“What it was, was all those f*gs, those Catholic f*gs, I think,” Huggins said.
Huggins later apologized.
“Earlier today 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,” the statement read.
“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 [anything] coming my way. I am ashamed and embarrassed and heartbroken for those I have hurt. I must do better, and I will.”
West Virginia University is reviewing the incident and issued a statement condemning the remarks.
“Coach Huggins’ remarks today on a Cincinnati radio show were insensitive, offensive and do not represent our university values,” the statement read. “West Virginia University does not condone the use of such language and takes such actions very seriously. The situation is under review and will be addressed by the university and its athletic department.”
Calls for Huggins’ ouster came quickly.
“If West Virginia retains Huggins, its message to LGBTQ students or citizens of the state would be undeniable: The basketball coach thinks your very existence is funny and to be made fun of,” wrote USA Today basketball writer Dan Wolken. “How can anyone in a position of power at West Virginia accept that?”
Huggins, an Ohio native who graduated from West Virginia, has been a college basketball coach for 38 years. His career includes stints at University of Akron, Cincinnati, Kansas State, and his current job at West Virginia. He has compiled an 863-389 record.
Huggins was fired from the Cincinnati job in 2005 despite leading the team to 14 straight NCAA tournament berths, after being arrested a year earlier for driving under the influence. Since taking over at West Virginia in 2007, Huggins has led the Mountaineers to 11 NCAA tournament appearances.