Morgantown, West Virginia – When North Carolina’s legendary head coach Roy Williams shockingly announced his retirement on April 1st, he reportedly cited frustrations with the direction of college basketball, particularly the new rules surrounding player transfers.
“I no longer feel like I’m the right man for the job,” Williams said at a tearful afternoon news conference explaining his decision to retire.
The sport of college basketball today is a very different game than the one that Roy Williams and Bob Huggins experienced throughout their long and illustrious careers.
Today, players can come and go without penalty and this is very difficult for old, veteran coaches like Williams or Huggins to accept. In addition, “stealing” players from their friends in the coaching ranks feels ugly and shady.
With that said, Bob Huggins deserves to remain as the Head Coach of the West Virginia Mountaineers for as long as he wishes. One of the very best to ever roam the sidelines, Huggins will be given the power to make the decision to retire when he’s ready to step down.
Next year, following the 2021-2022 season, Huggins’ contract allows him to continue to coach or take a position within the athletics department. According to a press release by West Virginia University, “Under the agreement, following the 2021-22 season, Huggins will assume a five-year Emeritus status within the WVU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, which concludes June 30, 2027.
He will be involved in public relations and development activities in addition to other duties assigned at that time by the Director of Athletics. Huggins could defer his term of Emeritus status and continue to serve as head coach beyond 2021-22 with a mutual agreement between Huggins and the Director.”
Following next season, Bob Huggins will be 68 years old. Although several coaches have coached well into their late sixties, early seventies, Huggins is not in the superior physical condition in takes to continue for much longer.
The Oscar Tshiebwe situation was very hard for Huggins to accept. Dealing with players transferring in and out of the program is not something that Huggins wants to deal with, and Bob Huggins refuses to stoop to the level of the ugliness required to win big in the sport.
John Calipari is willing to go there. Calipari is willing to turn his back on a decades-long friendship for a chance at a player with incredible athleticism and motor like Oscar Tshiebwe. Bob Huggins just isn’t. He’s either too principled or too classy to toe the line of ethical and unethical behavior like many college coaches do today.
Huggins, who currently sits at 900 wins in his career, will now pass Roy Williams and the great Bob Knight on the all-time wins list, and will finish his remarkable career as 3rd in the history of the game in wins. Only Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim are likely out of reach for Huggins.
Although a national championship is the fitting, ideal end for Huggins, it’s not necessary for him to have a truly remarkable, Hall of Fame-worthy career. Bob Huggins has nothing left to prove.
A cushy position in the athletic department where he can oversee the team and add valuable insight seems like a perfect fit for the aging Huggins.
Expect Huggins to coach this season, to use next year as a “farewell season” with fans back in the stands, and then spend five years in the athletic department before officially retiring in 2027.
Bob Huggins will go down as one of the most important figures in college basketball history, and his legacy at West Virginia will be unrivaled.