Watch CBS News

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins gets $1 million pay cut, suspension after homophobic slur

The West Virginia University men's basketball coach who used a homophobic slur during an interview will keep his position, but take a $1 million pay cut and be suspended for three games, the school said Wednesday

Bob Huggins was making an appearance on radio host Bill Cunningham's show on a Cincinnati radio station on May 8. Huggins, a former basketball coach at the University of Cincinnati, was asked about the rivalry between that team and Xavier University. Huggins, who led the team between 1989 and 2005, used multiple slurs in his response. 

In a statement, West Virginia University called Huggins' comments "insensitive, offensive" and said they "do not represent our university values." At the time, the university said Huggins' behavior was under review and would be addressed soon. 

In an apology statement, Huggins said he was "ashamed and embarassed and heartbroken for those" he had "hurt." Huggins, 70, said he would "fully accept" any response from the school. 

On Wednesday, the university announced multiple responses to Huggins' comments. Huggins' salary will be cut by $1 million, he will be suspended for three games, and his contract will be year-to-year instead of a multi-year agreement, the school said. It has also been made "explicitly clear" that similar language will result in his termination, the university said. 

In a statement, school officials said that the incident "provides the opportunity for learning" and said they will "use this moment to educate how the casual use of inflammatory language and implicit bias affect our culture, our community and our health and well-being." 

West Virginia University men's basketball coach Bob Huggins reacts during the first half against the Maryland Terrapins in the first round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Legacy Arena at the BJCC on March 16, 2023 in Birmingham, Alabama. / Getty Images

To reach that goal, the school's athletics department will partner with its LGBTQ+ center to develop annual training sessions addressing homophobia, transphobia, sexism, ableism and more, the school said. The required training will be required of Huggins and "all current and future athletics coaching staff," the school said. Huggins will also be required to meet with LGBTQ+ leaders from across the state, with guidance from the center, and partner with state organizations. 

"Through those conversations, we expect Coach Huggins, in accordance with these partners, to engage in additional opportunities to show support for the LGBTQ+ community," the school said. 

Huggins will also meet with leadership from the school's Carruth Center, a mental health clinic, to "better understand the mental health crisis" facing college students and those in marginalized communities. 

The $1 million cut from Huggins' annual salary will be directed to supporting the LGBTQ+ Center, the Carruth Center and other state and national organizations with the same goals, West Virginia University said. Huggins will also make a substantial donation to Xavier University, a suggestion he made that WVU officials agreed with, the school said. 

"We will never truly know the damage that has been done by the words said in those 90 seconds. Words matter and they can leave scars that can never be seen. But words can also heal," school officials said. "And by taking this moment to learn more about another's perspective, speak respectfully and lead with understanding, perhaps the words "do better" will lead to meaningful change for all." 

In a statement shared by the school and on social media, Huggins called his words "awful" and said he "deeply" regretted the comments. He said that he hoped his donation to Xavier University would support the school's students, and added that he was "looking forward to" working with the LGBTQ+ Center and other organizations "to learn more about the issues facing the community." 

"I have no excuse for the language I used, and I take full responsibility," Huggins said. "I will abide with the actions outlined by the University and Athletics leadership to learn from this incident. I have had several conversations with colleagues and friends that I deeply respect and admire over the last 24 hours, and I am keenly aware of the pain that I have caused. I meant what I wrote on Monday - I will do better." 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.