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|Born||September 21, 1953|
Morgantown, West Virginia
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1977–1978||West Virginia (assistant)|
|1978–1980||Ohio State (assistant)|
|Head coaching record|
|Tournaments||33–24 (NCAA Division I)|
|Accomplishments and honors|
|2 NCAA Division I Regional (1992, 2010)|
OVC regular season (1986)
OVC Tournament (1986)
2 Great Midwest regular season (1992, 1993)
4 Great Midwest Tournament (1992–1995)
Big East Tournament (2010)
8 C–USA regular season (1996–2002, 2004)
4 C–USA Tournament (1996, 1998, 2002, 2004)
|C–USA Coach of the Decade (2005)|
3× C–USA Coach of the Year (1998–2000)
OVC Coach of the Year (1986)
Big 12 Coach of the Year (2015)
Jim Phelan Award (2015)
Robert Edward Huggins (born September 21, 1953), nicknamed "Huggy Bear," is an American college basketball coach. He is currently the head coach of the West Virginia Mountaineers men's basketball team. Huggins previously held the head coaching positions at Walsh College (1980–1983), the University of Akron (1984–1989), the University of Cincinnati (1989–2005) and Kansas State University (2006–2007). On April 5, 2007, he accepted an offer to return to coach his alma mater, West Virginia University. After leading the Mountaineers to a Sweet 16 appearance, Huggins signed an 11-year contract with the university after the season ended.
One of only ten coaches ever with 800 or more career victories, Huggins has been to 24 total NCAA tournaments, including 23 in the last 26 seasons. He has led his teams to nine Sweet Sixteen appearances, four Elite Eight appearances, and two Final Four appearances (1992 with Cincinnati; 2010 with West Virginia). As of March 2018, Huggins has averaged 23 wins per season over the course of his career.
Huggins, who had moved from Morgantown, West Virginia to Port Washington, Ohio, with his family, played basketball for his father, Charles, at Indian Valley South High School. As a senior, he helped lead his team to a 26–0 season.
Huggins began college at Ohio University. He returned to his native West Virginia, after transferring out from Ohio University after his freshman season, playing point guard for the Mountaineers from 1975 until 1977 under head coach Joedy Gardner. His'career-high was 28 points against Virginia Tech, he averaged 13.2 points as a senior, and he totaled 800 career points in his three collegiate seasons.
Cut after a 1977 tryout with the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers, Huggins subsequently pursued a Master's degree in health administration at his alma mater, West Virginia University. He had previously graduated from WVU magna cum laude (the highest latinate honor for academic grades then bestowed by WVU) with a double major in education and physical therapy.
Early coaching career
Huggins began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at West Virginia under Gardner in 1977. He then spent two years as an assistant to Eldon Miller at Ohio State University. Huggins was only 27 when he became a collegiate head coach at Walsh University in 1980. In three seasons at Walsh, he compiled a 71–26 record, twice earning NAIA District 22 Coach of the Year honors. Huggins directed the Walsh 1982–83 team to a perfect 30–0 regular season mark and an eventual 34–1 mark. After serving as an assistant at University of Central Florida for the 1983–84 season, Huggins was named head coach of the University of Akron. Huggins compiled a 97–46 record and reached post-season play in three of his five seasons at Akron, including an NCAA bid in 1985–86 season.
Cincinnati, while having a rich history, had fallen on hard times. Cincinnati appeared in 5 consecutive Final Fours from 1959 to 1963—and won the national championship in 1961 and 1962. By 1989, when Huggins was hired, though, the Bearcats had not earned a bid to the NCAA tournament since 1977. Even worse, Cincinnati had only one winning conference record in those 12 previous seasons. The Bearcats were invited to the NIT his first two years and then advanced all the way to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament in 1992, Huggins' third season as coach.
Overall, Huggins compiled a 399–127 record (.759) in his 16 years at Cincinnati, making him the winningest basketball coach in the school's history. Huggins directed Cincinnati to ten conference regular-season titles and eight league tournament titles. The Bearcats appeared in post-season play in each of Huggins' 16 seasons. Besides the aforementioned Final Four appearance in 1992, they advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament two other times, in 1993 and 1996.
Huggins earned the Ray Meyer Award as the Conference USA Coach of the Year a record three times (1997–98, 1998–99, and 1999–2000), and was a unanimous choice for C-USA Coach of the Decade. He was selected national coach of the year by ESPN.com in 2001–02. His teams won five consecutive conference tournament titles—all four Great Midwest Conference titles from 1992 to 1995 and the first Conference USA Men's Basketball Tournament in 1996. He was named co-national coach of the year by The Sporting News and was Basketball Times' national coach of the year in 1997–98. He earned national coach of the year recognition from Hoop Scoop in 1991–92 and Playboy in 1992–93.
Huggins surprised some astute college basketball followers in 1997–98 by directing a team which had only one returning starter to a 27–6 record, the Conference USA regular season and tournament titles, a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament and a Top-10 finish in the polls. The team was then upset in the Round of 32 by West Virginia in the NCAA tournament. Huggins' 2001–02 team, unranked when the season began, posted a 31–4 record, setting a school record for wins, made a clean sweep of the Conference USA regular season and tournament titles, and was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, where they lost in double overtime to No 8 seed UCLA in the second round. In 2002–03, Huggins suffered a major heart attack on the last Saturday of September, but was present for the team's first practice two weeks later. Not surprisingly given the season's rocky start, the team qualified for the NCAA tournament only as an 8 seed, and was ousted in the first round by Gonzaga.
In the 2003–04, Huggins piloted the Bearcats to regular-season and tournament titles, and an NCAA tournament berth while amassing a 25–7 record. Despite a favorable draw—the team was sent to nearby Columbus for the first two rounds of the tournament—the Bearcats were mauled by the Illinois Fighting Illini in the second round, losing by 24 points. The 2004–05 Bearcats posted a 25–8 ledger, the ninth season in the previous 10 that the Bearcats had won at least 25 games. They received only a 7 seed in the tournament, however, and gave eventual Elite Eight participant Kentucky a spirited game before falling in the second round at the RCA Dome in nearby Indianapolis.
On August 23, 2005, UC President Nancy L. Zimpher gave Huggins an ultimatum: resign and take a $3 million buyout, or be reassigned outside the athletic department for the balance of his contract. Had Huggins not responded within 24 hours, he would have been fired. Huggins had untruthfully told the press he didn't know about the ultimatum until numerous reporters called him in Las Vegas. However, multiple correspondence between UC and Huggins' attorney showed that not only had the parties been negotiating his termination, Huggins knew weeks in advance his termination was imminent. He ultimately agreed to accept the $3 million buyout.
Zimpher said that the Bearcat program under Huggins didn't fit with her plan to upgrade UC's academic reputation. However, she'd been seriously considering ousting Huggins since he was arrested for driving under the influence in 2004. He ultimately pleaded no contest to DUI.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Zimpher was particularly upset that news of the arrest broke on the morning of her first graduation as UC's president, at which Coretta Scott King was due to be the speaker. Huggins didn't help his image with Zimpher when an assistant coach, two players and a recruit were arrested in the spring of 2005.
At the time, Huggins' contract had a rollover clause which added a year every summer. Zimpher revoked that clause on June 11, 2004 after his no-contest plea, but allowed Huggins to return for the 2004–05 basketball season. On May 11, 2005, he was given the option of leaving or finishing the last two years remaining on his contract. In a May 16, 2005 press conference, Huggins announced that he was staying until his contract expired on June 30, 2007, thus agreeing to the terms originally offered to him by UC.
Huggins was replaced by assistant head coach Andy Kennedy.
After spending a year out of the coaching profession, on March 23, 2006, Huggins accepted the head coaching job at Kansas State University, replacing the fired Jim Wooldridge. The Wildcats had not been to the NCAA tournament since the 1995–1996 campaign and had not had a conference record better than 7–9 since the Big 12 Conference was formed in 1996. The previous three Kansas State basketball coaches (Dana Altman, Tom Asbury, and Wooldridge) had combined for a 236–232 (.504) record. In his sole season at Kansas State, Huggins coached the Wildcats to a 23–12 overall record, and a 10–6 Big 12 record. the Wildcats also advanced to the second round of the NIT in the postseason.
Some of Huggins' recruiting targets included consensus top 10 players in O. J. Mayo, Bill Walker, as well as consensus top 100 recruits such as Herb Pope, Ramar Smith, and Jason Bennett. While Mayo, Pope, and Smith all ended up at other schools, Huggins was able to bring in Bennett for the 2006–07 season and Walker—initially slated to join the team for the 2007–08 season, managed to graduate from North College Hill High School early to participate in time for the spring semester. Huggins' second recruiting class was rated even better. The key recruit was consensus top 5 player Michael Beasley out of the Washington, D.C. area. Other recruits in the 2007 class included Walker, Dominique Sutton—a 6'4" swingman out of Durham, North Carolina--Jacob Pullen—a 6'1" point guard from Proviso East High School— and Fred Brown, a 6'2" shooting guard from West Palm Beach, Florida.
Huggins' 2006-07 Kansas State Wildcats men's basketball team season at Kansas State was a success. In addition to the Huggins' recruits, Kansas State had returned 4 of its top 5 scorers including 2nd team All-Big 12 Conference member Cartier Martin and Honorable All-Big 12 member David Hoskins. The 2005–06 team had been involved in many close games, going 7–9 in games decided by 5 points or less during the season. The Wildcats were picked to finish as high as 5th in the Big 12,. Prior to that season, Kansas State had never finished higher than 7th place in the Big 12. The early part of the season got off to a rocky start as the Wildcats started the year 4–3 which included embarrassing losses to the New Mexico Lobos and California Golden Bears by a combined 54 points. The Wildcats would benefit from the eligibility of Bill Walker and run of six straight wins including a tournament victory in the Las Vegas Holiday Classic. The Wildcats would soon hit another rough patch as they lost three straight games to Xavier, Texas A&M and Texas Tech. Even more damaging was the loss of star freshman Bill Walker when he tore his ACL five minutes into a 69–65 loss to Texas A&M. After the Walker injury, seniors Martin, Lance Harris and Akeem Wright stepped up their game and led Kansas State to a 7-game winning streak which included a win over the ranked Texas Longhorns in Austin that broke a 22-game Texas home winning streak. The 2nd half of Big 12 play saw the Wildcats go 4–4 including a pair of losses to its in-state rival the Kansas Jayhawks. Kansas State ended the Big 12 season in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament losing to Kansas for a third time, but did pick up a crucial 66–45 win over Texas Tech. The Wildcats received a NIT bid and went 1–1 beating Vermont and losing to DePaul. Kansas State ended the season 23–12 (10–6)--the most victories from a Wildcat team since 1987–1988, a year that saw them lose to the Kansas Jayhawks in the Elite Eight of the 1988 NCAA Tournament.
On April 5, 2007, Huggins announced that he had accepted the position of head coach at his alma mater, West Virginia University. Coach Huggins succeeded John Beilein who left to fill the same position with the Michigan Wolverines. Only nine games into the 2007–2008 season, the Mountaineers entered the AP Top 25 poll carrying a #24 ranking with an 8–1 record. On December 22, 2007 Huggins achieved his 600th victory as a head coach in a road game at Canisius.
The Mountaineers finished the year with an 83–74 overtime victory over St. John's, then opened the Big East Tournament with a 58–53 victory over Providence. In the second round of the tourney, the Mountaineers upset the #15-ranked Connecticut Huskies, 78–72. Joe Alexander contributed with a career-high 34 points and 7 rebounds. The Mountaineers then, however, lost to the #9 Georgetown Hoyas, 55–72, in the tourney semifinals.
The showing by WVU in the Big East tourney propelled them into the West region of the NCAA Tournament as a #7-seed. The Mountaineers defeated Arizona in the first round 75–65 and defeated #2-Seed Duke 73–67 to move into the Sweet Sixteen giving Huggins his first Sweet Sixteen appearance since 2001 when he coached at Cincinnati. In the Sweet 16 matchup against #3-seed Xavier, the Mountaineers rallied from an 18-point deficit early in the game to tie the game 64–64 and send it into overtime. However, the Xavier Musketeers pulled out the victory, 79–75, with two 3-pointers in the last 1:18 of the ballgame. West Virginia finished the season ranked in the top 25 at #17.
At the end of the season, Huggins signed an 11-year contract extension that would keep him coaching at West Virginia until the age of 65.
On May 18, Huggins' completed his recruiting class with the signing of small forward, Devin Ebanks. The #13-ranked prospect had signed with Indiana before decommitting and looking at Memphis, Texas, Rutgers and WVU. Ebanks was the last addition to the freshman class that included #11-power forward Kevin Jones, #34-power forward Roscoe Davis and #26-point guard Darryl Bryant.
West Virginia began the 2008–09 season projected to finish 9th in the Big East under Huggins. However, they began the season 4–0, led by senior Alex Ruoff, junior Da'Sean Butler and a freshman class highlighted by Devin Ebanks and Darryl Bryant. They lost the Las Vegas Invitational Tournament Championship Game to Kentucky 54–43, but then bounced back with two wins to move to 6–1. However, they lost a last-second game to #22 Davidson and Stephen Curry in Madison Square Garden, 68–65.
Following the loss, WVU posted five straight victories; ending at the beginning of 2009. This streak included a 76–48 win over #13 Ohio State in Columbus, snapping the Buckeyes' nation-long 14-game win streak and handing OSU their biggest home loss since 1998. However, the streak ended in a 61–55 loss to #5 Connecticut which was followed by a 75–53 loss to #15 Marquette. The Mountaineers bounced back with a three-game win streak that included a 75–58 victory over #14 Georgetown in Washington, D.C. However, the streak ended in the 79–67 loss to #4 Pittsburgh in the Backyard Brawl. WVU defeated St. John's, but then lost to #7 Louisville and #20 Syracuse back-to-back. The Mountaineers ended the losing streak with an 86–59 win over Providence, but then lost to #4 Pitt for the second time.
West Virginia followed the loss to Pitt with a 93–72 victory over #13 Villanova, featuring Da'Sean Butler's career-high 43 point performance. The Mountaineers then defeated Notre Dame men's basketball and Rutgers before losing to Cincinnati 70–59 in Huggins' return to Cincinnati. The Mountaineers bounced back with consecutive wins against USF and DePaul, but lost to #6 Louisville 62–59 in Morgantown while hosting College GameDay.
West Virginia earned a first round bye in the 2009 Big East Tournament, and opened the second round of play with a 74–62 victory over Notre Dame. In the quarterfinals round, West Virginia defeated #2 Pittsburgh 74–60, but lost to Syracuse in overtime 74–69. Syracuse was fresh off the heels of a six overtime victory against Connecticut, the longest game in Big East history. WVU earned a #6 seed in the NCAA tournament and played their first-round game against the #11 seed Dayton Flyers. The season ended with a 68–60 loss to the Flyers.
West Virginia had a banner year, winning a school-record 31 games. WVU won the early season 76 Classic, defeating Long Beach State in the quarterfinals, Texas A&M in the semi-finals, and Portland in the championship round. The Mountaineers defeated seven NCAA Tournament teams throughout the season, including out-of-conference victories over aforementioned Texas A&M and Ohio State. Huggins' Mountaineers split the annual Backyard Brawl with Pitt, with each team winning on their home court. WVU finished the regular season with a 24–6 (13–5) record, good for second in the Big East, behind Syracuse. This represents WVU's highest regular season finish in their Big East tenure. The Mountaineers received a double-bye into the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament. WVU subsequently defeated Cincinnati, Notre Dame in the semi-finals, and the Georgetown Hoyas in the championship game to win their first Big East Tournament title.
WVU received a #2 seed (their highest ever) in the NCAA Tournament in the East Region. Huggins' squad defeated #15 seed Morgan State in their First Round match-up, #10 seed Missouri in the second round, and the #11 seed Washington Huskies in the Sweet 16 round. This set the stage for an Elite Eight match-up between the Mountaineers and the #1 seed Kentucky Wildcats, coached by Huggins' long-time friend, John Calipari. In a hard-fought, back-and-forth contest, WVU ultimately persevered in a 73–66 victory which sent the Mountaineers to their second Final Four in school history.
On April 3, 2010, Duke, the #1 seed from the South and the Mountaineers, squared off in the second of the Final Four games. Duke showed its full potential in the game, hitting 52.7 percent of its shots (and 52 percent of its three-pointers) while shredding West Virginia's 1–3–1 zone trap. Duke led 39–31 at the half and maintained its red-hot shooting in the second half. After WVU lost star forward Da'Sean Butler, a Wooden award finalist, to a devastating knee injury, the defining play of the game came when Nolan Smith missed a contested, fast-break layup, but Kyle Singler and Miles Plumlee combined to slam home the rebound to give Duke a 14-point lead. Despite the Final Four loss, WVU finished their season with a 31–7 record, and ranked #3 in the final Coaches' Poll, and #6 in the AP Poll.
On December 22, 2011, Huggins reached his 700th career victory by defeating Missouri State, making him one of 4 active coaches in Division I college basketball to have earned more than 700 wins.
Following two disappointing seasons, one of which saw WVU make no postseason at all and the other ending with a loss in the first round of the NIT, Huggins and the Mountaineers bounced back in 2014–15, making the Sweet Sixteen before bowing out to Kentucky, who was the #1 overall seed and undefeated at the time.
West Virginia enjoyed a very successful season, following their Sweet Sixteen appearance the year prior. The team got off to a 15–1 start, including a 4–0 mark in the Big 12 and climbed as high as #6 in the AP Poll following a win over #1 Kansas. The Mountaineers were ranked for the final 16 weeks in the AP poll.
The Mountaineers finished runner-up to the Jayhawks in the Big 12 and made it to the Big 12 Tournament championship game before losing to KU.
Head coaching record
|Walsh Cavaliers (Mid-Ohio Conference) (1980–1983)|
|1980–81||Walsh||14–16||9–5||3rd or 4th|
|1981–82||Walsh||23–9||11–3||1st||NAIA District 22 First Round|
|1982–83||Walsh||34–1||14–0||1st||NAIA District 22 Champion/NAIA First Round|
|Walsh:||71–26 (.732)||34-8 (.810)|
|Akron Zips (Ohio Valley Conference) (1984–1987)|
|1985–86||Akron||22–8||10–4||T–1st||NCAA Division I Round of 64|
|Akron Zips (NCAA Division I independent) (1987–1989)|
|Akron:||97–46 (.678)||25–17 (.595)|
|Cincinnati Bearcats (Metro Conference) (1989–1991)|
|1989–90||Cincinnati||20–14||9–5||2nd||NIT Second Round|
|1990–91||Cincinnati||18–12||8–6||3rd||NIT Second Round|
|Cincinnati Bearcats (Great Midwest Conference) (1991–1995)|
|1991–92||Cincinnati||29–5||8–2||T–1st||NCAA Division I Final Four|
|1992–93||Cincinnati||27–5||8–2||1st||NCAA Division I Elite Eight|
|1993–94||Cincinnati||22–10||7–5||4th||NCAA Division I Round of 64|
|1994–95||Cincinnati||23–11||7–5||3rd||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|Cincinnati Bearcats (Conference USA) (1995–2005)|
|1995–96||Cincinnati||28–5||11–3||1st||NCAA Division I Elite Eight|
|1996–97||Cincinnati||26–8||14–2||1st||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|1997–98||Cincinnati||27–6||12–4||1st||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|1998–99||Cincinnati||27–6||12–4||1st (American)||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|1999–00||Cincinnati||29–4||16–0||1st (American)||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|2000–01||Cincinnati||25–10||11–5||1st (American)||NCAA Division I Sweet 16|
|2001–02||Cincinnati||31–4||14–2||1st (American)||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|2002–03||Cincinnati||17–12||9–7||T–4th||NCAA Division I Round of 64|
|2003–04||Cincinnati||25–7||12–4||T–1st||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|2004–05||Cincinnati||25–8||12–4||T–2nd||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|Cincinnati:||399–127 (.759)||170–60 (.739)|
|Kansas State Wildcats (Big 12 Conference) (2006–2007)|
|2006–07||Kansas State||23–12||10–6||4th||NIT Second Round|
|Kansas State:||23–12 (.657)||10–6 (.625)|
|West Virginia Mountaineers (Big East Conference) (2007–2012)|
|2007–08||West Virginia||26–11||11–7||T–5th||NCAA Division I Sweet 16|
|2008–09||West Virginia||23–12||10–8||T–7th||NCAA Division I Round of 64|
|2009–10||West Virginia||31–7||13–5||T–2nd||NCAA Division I Final Four|
|2010–11||West Virginia||21–12||11–7||T–6th||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|2011–12||West Virginia||19–14||9–9||8th||NCAA Division I Round of 64|
|West Virginia Mountaineers (Big 12 Conference) (2012–present)|
|2013–14||West Virginia||17–16||9–9||T–6th||NIT First Round|
|2014–15||West Virginia||25–10||11–7||T–3rd||NCAA Division I Sweet 16|
|2015–16||West Virginia||26–9||13–5||2nd||NCAA Division I Round of 64|
|2016–17||West Virginia||28–9||12–6||T–2nd||NCAA Division I Sweet 16|
|2017–18||West Virginia||26–11||11–7||T–2nd||NCAA Division I Sweet 16|
|2018–19||West Virginia||15–21||4–14||10th||CBI Quarterfinal|
|2019–20||West Virginia||21–10||9–9||T-3rd||NCAA Division I Tournament Cancelled|
|West Virginia:||289–158 (.647)||127–102 (.555)|
Postseason invitational champion
- List of college men's basketball coaches with 600 wins
- List of NCAA Division I Men's Final Four appearances by coach
- "SULLIVAN: Huggins' 2 choices: Go home, stay home". www.enquirer.com.
- "Huggins timeline". Cincinnati Enquirer. November 14, 1999. Retrieved March 14, 2015.
- "Huggins leaves K-State to take WVU job". ESPN.com. April 5, 2007.
- "Huggins achieved perfection in '72". The Cincinnati Enquirer.
- "MSNsportsNET.Com – West Virginia University Mountaineers". Archived from the original on August 9, 2006. Retrieved August 21, 2006.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 1, 2008. Retrieved February 28, 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Text of letter sent to Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins". ESPN.com. August 23, 2005.
- Cincinnati Enquirer (PDF) http://news.cincinnati.com/assets/AB7501823.PDF. Missing or empty
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 16, 2008. Retrieved February 16, 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Huggins Isn't Quite Finished at UC". WLWT. Archived from the original on May 16, 2008.
- Rozin, Skip (March 30, 2006). "The Basketball Coach Vs. the College President". The Wall Street Journal.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 25, 2008. Retrieved February 28, 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Huggins accepts Kansas State job", ESPN.com, Andy Katz, March 23, 2006.
- "2007 recruit rankings" Archived March 22, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- "Preseason big 12 poll" Archived July 15, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- WVU's Huggins signs 11-year deal – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Archived April 2, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- "West Virginia Football & Basketball". westvirginia.scout.com.
- "West Virginia vs. Ohio State – Game Recap – December 27, 2008". ESPN.com.
- "Villanova vs. West Virginia – Game Recap – February 13, 2009". ESPN.com.
- "West Virginia vs. Pittsburgh – Game Recap – March 12, 2009". ESPN.com.
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