Calls are escalating for the ouster of West Virginia University (WVU) men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins after he used a homophobic slur during a radio interview on Monday.
Huggins, whose college basketball coaching career spans more than 40 seasons with a record of 863-389, has led the Mountaineers since 2007. He made the anti-gay remarks during an appearance on Bill Cunningham’s WLW radio show in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The sports talk radio host asked Huggins about the crosstown rivalry between his former employer, University of Cincinnati, and Xavier University, as the two schools are less than five miles apart. While discussing reports of Xavier fans throwing rubber penises on the court during his tenure as the Bearcats coach, Huggins used the slur in reference to the Jesuit Catholic school’s fans.
“All those f**s, those Catholic f**s. They were envious they didn’t have one,” Huggins said.
The coach posted an apology to Twitter on Monday evening, saying he “will fully accept” any consequences for his use of a “completely insensitive and abhorrent phrase.”
“There are consequences for our words and actions, and I will fully accept any coming my way,” he said. “I am ashamed and embarrassed and heartbroken for those I have hurt. I must do better, and I will.”
Newsweek has reached out via email to representatives for WVU.
The university’s athletics department said in a statement that Huggins’ comments were offensive and that the “situation is under review and will be addressed.”
Despite the public apology, some Twittter users called for Huggins to be ousted, saying his derogatory comments were indefensible and potentially career-ending.
“I wasn’t going to address it without audio, but this is bad. Bob Huggins has done a lot for WVU and college basketball and has been having a great offseason, but this is impossible to defend,” sports reporter Mike Asti posted, while sharing an audio clip of Huggins’ controversial interview.
“Bob Huggins should be fired. Will he? That’s up to West Virginia University. This wasn’t a slip up. It was the total opposite. He was well aware of what he was doing. He knows what he said. Then he said it again. Then he laughed about it,” another Twitter user said.
Other Twitter users said ousting Huggins would be too extreme of a punishment.
“The comment was unnecessary, even when describing other fans who ruined property. I appreciate his apology & I’m sure the punishment will fit the offense. I’m just not sure a firing is the equivalent,” another user tweeted.
“Bob Huggins is the best thing to happen to WVU in recent history. It’s unfortunate we are in this situation, but to fire him over this would be asinine. Would have gone over better had he been referring to Pitt fans,” another Twitter user said.