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Huggins out at UC
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Old 23 Aug 2005, 08:07 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Huggins out at UC

Cincinnati gives ultimatum to Huggins: resign or be fired

Gregg Doyel Aug. 23, 2005
By Gregg Doyel
CBS Senior Writer
Tell Gregg your opinion!

Bob Huggins' career at Cincinnati is over.

University president Nancy Zimpher, who has been on an anti-Huggins crusade since his DUI arrest last summer, has given the coach 24 hours to accept a buyout of $3 million. If he refuses, he will be fired without cause and receive a severance of $1.9 million, a source confirmed to CBS on Tuesday.

"It's done," the source said. "The end is here."

Huggins' attorney, Richard Katz, told that he received a fax from the university at 11:30 a.m. EDT Tuesday. Katz wouldn't discuss details of that letter, but a source confirmed that it laid out Huggins' buyout options. The letter, a copy of which has been obtained by CBS, gave Katz until 2 p.m. Wednesday to accept what the university called its "best and final offer."

Zimpher, who came to Cincinnati in 2003 from Wisconsin-Milwaukee, has been uncomfortable with the combative, unapologetic Huggins as the face of her university. After his DUI arrest last summer she removed the automatic rollover from his contract, leaving him to coach the 2004-05 season with just three years left on his contract. This summer she refused to reinstate the rollover, leaving him two seasons and, essentially, no chance to lead Cincinnati into its Big East era.

For weeks, rumors have circulated in college basketball that Huggins' future was days or even hours away from being determined. On Tuesday, rumor became reality.

With Cincinnati joining the Big East this season and practice less than two months away, Huggins' most logical successor is associate head coach Andy Kennedy. He's a nine-year college assistant who spent the past four years at Cincinnati after five seasons at his alma mater, UAB. Kennedy, an All-American guard in high school, played one season at North Carolina State before scoring nearly 1,800 points in his career at UAB. He played briefly in the NBA and spent several years overseas.

The only foreseeable roadblock between Kennedy and the head coaching position is Huggins, and that's an unlikely obstacle. Because Huggins' loyalty is to the UC players -- especially seniors Eric Hicks, James White, Armein Kirkland and Jihad Muhammad -- he probably will urge Kennedy to take the job rather than turn it down out of loyalty to Huggins.

Such an ending would save Cincinnati from the kind of in-house strife that sabotaged Indiana in the transition from Bob Knight to Mike Davis. After Knight was fired in September 2000, he urged Davis not to take the job. However, with Indiana players threatening not to play the 2000-01 season if the school didn't promote Davis or assistant John Treloar, Davis took the job. That drove a wedge between Knight and Davis, and the IU fan base took sides.

Davis' promotion saved Indiana temporarily -- the Hoosiers won 21 games under Davis in 2000-01, then reached the 2002 NCAA championship game -- but eventually fractured the Indiana fan base. Some have remained loyal to Knight. Others have backed Davis. The long-term result has been a mess, with the Hoosiers missing out on the past two NCAA Tournaments.

Whatever happens at Cincinnati, it won't be a repeat of the Knight-Davis fiasco. If Kennedy replaces Huggins, he will do so with Huggins' blessing. Whether Kennedy gets the job long term probably depends on Cincinnati's 2005-06 results and his ability to recruit while serving on an interim basis. The city of Cincinnati has the best player in the high school class of 2007, O.J. Mayo, not to mention Mayo's teammate, top 10 prospect Bill Walker. Mayo and Walker were considering Cincinnati to play for Huggins. If they signed on to play for Kennedy, he'd almost certainly be given the job on a full-time basis.

And if Kennedy doesn't replace Huggins? That could be the death of Cincinnati basketball. Forget qualifying for the 2006 NCAA Tournament. Try fielding a team.

If Kennedy turns down the UC job out of loyalty to Huggins -- or worse, if he isn't offered the job at all -- expect the obliteration of Bearcats basketball. Players would transfer en masse. Recruits wouldn't show up. It would be chaos.

It's late August, not the time to be pursuing other schools' head coaches. If it wanted a head coach, Cincinnati probably would stay within the state, looking at impeccable winners like Dan Dakich of Bowling Green or Brian Gregory of Dayton. Then again, two Big East coaches with Midwest ties -- Seton Hall's Louis Orr, a native of Cincinnati; and Rutgers' Gary Waters, formerly at Kent State -- might be interested. However, the roster that would await an outside hire surely wouldn't be the Bearcats' roster at this moment.

As for Huggins, one year from now he'll be coaching an NCAA contender. He went 399-127 at Cincinnati with 14 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, and every spring roughly 40 Division I jobs come open. Of those 40, five or 10 are worthy of him. Of those five or 10, at least one will offer him the position. Probably more than one.

In the meantime, how much money Huggins gets out of Cincinnati remains to be seen, Katz said.

"Most coaches' contracts have termination provisions, both with and without cause," Katz said. "In the 'without cause' situation, there's an amount the coach is entitled to under contract. That can be clear, or it can be interpreted in different manners -- and what's clear to us is not clear to (Cincinnati), and they say vice versa."
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This is fucking bullshit. Pure bullshit. Huggins is UC.
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