After Bob Huggins’ experience with misbehaving players, run-ins with the police and aggressive attitude, there were still a lot of people who wanted him to stay on the coaching staff. Many thought the president at the time, Nancy Zimpher, handled the situation poorly.
In August 2005, Zimpher gave Huggins 24 hour to decide whether to resign or get fired. Students, faculty, and UC basketball fans argued 24 hours wasn’t enough time. Others liked the basketball success Huggins brought to the program. He had students and alumni wanting to go to the games. Some alumni donated to the program, just because of Huggins.
Zimpher made her decision based an initiative she began called UC|21. It’s purpose was to set a higher bar to follow throughout the school. In a press conference in September of 2005, Zimpher said she made “no apologies for setting high standards.” She was happy with the decision she made, however, some students think she abused the power of her new initiative.
Lucion Dobbs, a first year student during the time of Huggins’ firing, was quoted in The News Record expressing his disapproval of her decision. “UC|21 is supposed to be how to better everyone, and [the manner in which Huggins was fired] was kind of unprofessional,” he said.
Brad Gabbard, a graduate student during the time of Huggins’ firing, was reported by The News Record with a similar response: “The problem was how it was handled.” Gabbard would’ve liked the situation to have been handled in a more professional way.
After the firing, there was speculation about whether donors will continue to give their money to UC. Zimpher and the board had reportedly received phone calls from those threatening to cut their donations.
UC alumnus Michael Meehan, who had been to every basketball game for 20 years, stated “Nancy Zimpher basically doesn’t care about athletics or the money it brings in.” It was obvious she had lost the support of UC basketball loyalists.
Attendance at games dropped off significantly after Huggins was fired. In 2004 under Huggins, the average attendance was 12,805 per game, which ranked 24th in the country. In 2006, the average attendance dropped to 9,300, which ranked 53rd in the country.
After Huggins left Cincinnati, he took one season off from coaching, Kansas state hired him as their head coach. After one season with the Wildcats, he accepted the head coaching gig at his alma mater, West Virginia. In just his third season, he led the Mountaineers to a Final Four appearance in his third season.
From 2008 to 2011 under Huggins, West Virginia’s basketball program had a 90 percent graduation rate.
Huggins is in his 13th season at West Virginia, where he’s won nearly 65 percent of his games (271-151). From 1995 to 2007, West Virginia only had seven winning seasons. Huggins has 10 winning seasons in his 12 years.