Monday, March 18, 2002

Huggins says 'never say never'

Future of UC coach unknown

By Michael Perry
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        PITTSBURGH — It's hard to believe it's come to this, but University of Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins was quoting former Xavier coach Pete Gillen on Sunday.

Bob Huggins watches with consternation.
(AP photo)
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        Asked about speculation he might become the next coach at West Virginia, Huggins replied: “If there was speculation about you, you might get a raise maybe if they want to keep you, so it ain't all a bad thing. I'll tell you this, because Pete Gillen used to tell you guys this all the time and you always left him alone: Never say never.”

        Huggins said he has “not talked to anyone” regarding the job opening at his alma mater. Bret Adams, Huggins' lawyer, said if the Mountaineers are interested, he expects they will ask UC Athletic Director Bob Goin for permission to talk to Huggins today or Tuesday.

        No matter what happens, it could all take place within the next week.

        “Like any school, I think they're not going to want to wait a long time for anybody to make a decision,” Adams said. “They've got an opening to fill.”

        Since the day Gale Catlett resigned as West Virginia's coach, Huggins' name has surfaced as the leading candidate. Several people close to Huggins said he has interest in coaching at the school where he played and began his coaching career as a graduate assistant in 1977.

        There are questions as to whether West Virginia can afford Huggins and whether he would want to go to a Big East Conference cellar-dweller and rebuild a program.

        Another question is this: Could Huggins simply be burned out after 13 seasons at the same school?

        He has guided the Bearcats to 11 consecutive NCAA Tournaments and seven straight 25-win seasons. His .744 career winning percentage ranks fourth among active coaches. Two of the coaches ahead of him (College of Charleston's John Kresse and Fresno State's Jerry Tarkanian) have announced their retirements, which will put Huggins No.2 on the list behind Roy Williams of Kansas.

        UC junior Leonard Stokes said Huggins is the reason he came to UC, and he doesn't want to see him leave.

        “I think he loves us so much,” Stokes said, “I just don't think he's going anywhere.”

Complete NCAA coverage

Bearcats Stories
UC loses to UCLA
DAUGHERTY: A could-have-been ending
Leader emerges in Stokes
- Huggins says 'never say never'
Logan's tough day doesn't diminish career
UC women meet old nemesis

Xavier falls to Oklahoma
SULLIVAN: Appreciation may come later
West will return, teammates say
Sato makes big impression
One-sided crowd helps Oklahoma
Men's Sweet 16 pairings
Southern Illinois crashes the party
Prince helps Kentucky right ship
Indiana detects weakness in Duke
Portland 3, Mighty Ducks 2
Coming up this week
Dessens struggles early
Bowden favors Graves as closer
Tough roster decisions ahead
Royals 7, Reds 6
Hawkins to re-sign for 3 years
Winton Woods, Roger Bacon in home stretch
Ky. girls Sweet 16 schedule
Ohio boys state tournament schedule

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