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Dispute over former West Virginia basketball coach Bob Huggins raises employment questions over resignation

Dispute over former Bob Huggins raises employment questions over resignation
Dispute over former Bob Huggins raises employment questions over resignation 02:49

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — An attorney for former West Virginia University basketball coach Bob Huggins says he never really resigned and should be reinstated.

As KDKA-TV's Jon Delano reports, this matter is likely to become a sticky legal question of resignation notice, contract law and employment agreement. 

Did Huggins, cited last month in Pittsburgh for driving with nearly three times the allowed blood alcohol content, really resign the next day from WVU or not?

It may come down to how exactly Huggins resigned, if he did at all, says local employment attorney Sam Cordes.

"If it came by an email from his wife, or his wife's email, to the wrong person, maybe it wasn't a formal resignation," said Cordes, who is not involved in the case.

That's exactly what Huggins' Cleveland-based attorney, David Campbell, claims, saying the email came from June Huggins, the coach's wife, was not signed by him and was not addressed to West Virginia's athletic director and general counsel via registered or certified mail, as required by his employment agreement.

In a letter on Friday to West Virginia President Gordon Gee, Campbell said Huggins wants to return to his head coach position following rehabilitation for alcohol abuse, adding, "Coach Huggins never signed a resignation letter and never communicated a resignation to anyone at WVU."

"If he is suffering from alcoholism, that is a protected disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act," Cordes said. "You can discharge someone for conduct – if you come to work drunk or something – but the fact that you suffer from alcoholism, if that is the reason action is taken, it's a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act."

In a letter on Saturday, the university's general counsel, without addressing the alcohol issue, questioned who of three lawyers represented Huggins, noted that Huggins had told staff and athletes he would no longer coach, and insisted that Huggins resigned, adding, "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."

Delano: "Can you revoke a resignation?"

Cordes: "Well, it depends. Let me give you a lawyer answer. It depends."

For anyone with an employment agreement, says Cordes, it really comes down to the terms of that agreement, contract law, and the facts. But most often, these disputes get resolved outside of court with something over which there is no confusion: money.

"These generally end up, at this level, they generally end up being resolved," Cordes said.

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