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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.