By Bill Koch
Enquirer staff writer
A week ago, suspended University of Cincinnati basketball coach Bob Huggins didn't know what criteria he had to meet in order to return to his job. Six days later, he had met enough of them to be assured of an Aug. 27 return.
UC athletic director Bob Goin (right) announced the reinstatement of men's basketball coach Bob Huggins Thursday.
The Enquirer/JEFF SWINGER
"I was satisfied after three or four face-to-face meetings that he was ready to resume the responsibilities that are demanded of him," athletic director Bob Goin said Thursday, after announcing Huggins' return date at a news conference at the Edwards Center on the UC campus.
Huggins, 50, was suspended indefinitely with pay June 12, following his June 8 arrest in Fairfax for drunken driving.
The Aug. 27 return means Huggins will have missed 76 days. It also will assure he's back on the job in time for the September recruiting contact period and the start of practice Oct. 16. He will have missed both recruiting evaluation periods from July 8-17 and July 22-31.
But Goin said none of that was a consideration in his recommendation to UC president Nancy Zimpher and UC board chairman Phillip R. Cox that Huggins was ready to return. He said Zimpher and Cox supported his decision, though neither attended the news conference.
"There's no hidden agenda," Goin said. "If we feel comfortable and confident that he can carry out the responsibilities of our basketball coach and he gets rested and he does what he said, then we're bringing him back. It has nothing to do with whether or not he's here for the first day of practice or not."
A woman who answered the phone in Zimpher's office Thursday afternoon said the UC president would have no further comment on Huggins.
Huggins, who left campus after making a statement to begin a fishing trip, is being paid his base salary of $185,000 during his suspension. He also had to vacate his office and forfeit his university-supplied car.
His contract, which automatically rolled over every July 1 so that he always had four years remaining, was not rolled over this year, which means Huggins has three years left on his deal.
"I think it's a clear message that this is something of an evaluation period now," Goin said. "You're on a three-year contract and we're going to evaluate whether we can move forward. Right now we think we can."
Goin said there were no written conditions for Huggins' return and no zero-tolerance policy in place, but there was an understanding between the two of them that Huggins will conduct himself "in a manner that makes the university proud."
Huggins took what Goin called "self-generated steps" that included outside evaluations to determine if he has a drinking problem. The athletic director is convinced Huggins is not an alcoholic.
"Those evaluations indicate no serious problem," Goin said. "He made a mistake (and exercised) poor judgment, but he can control that and he can assume responsibilities."
A week ago - July 9 - Goin acknowledged that Huggins had not been told what he needed to do to be allowed to return to work. But the two met alone Sunday, and the pace of the process accelerated.
Goin said he met Wednesday morning with Zimpher and Cox and after reaching an agreement for Huggins' return, informed Huggins of the return date Wednesday night.
The UC athletic director said at the time of Huggins' suspension he never considered firing him. He would not say Thursday if Huggins had been asked to resign or given the option to resign.
"There's always a number of options when you go through this," Goin said. "But there was never anything put in that he had to do one thing or the other."
Asked what the conditions are for Huggins' return, Goin said: "I don't know that I need to share that with you. There were outside evaluations, but that's of a personal nature. It's not rocket science. It's just, 'Let's have a program that we can all be proud of.' I don't know that I would share any of the conditions, because that's why they were done verbally.
"There were a number of things we talked about, but they were talked about between an athletic director and a basketball coach. He seems to be accepting to them."
Huggins cleared to resume duties
Punishment nearly over for Huggins
Peters glad job is short-lived
Reinstatement doesn't surprise Bearcat players
Huggins' 'timeout' long enough, Goin says
Text of Bob Goin's press conference statement
Daugherty: Time will tell if Huggins' timeout resolved all issues
Rotation science not in the Cards
Freel finds niche here, there and everywhere
Griffey staying at CF for now
AL: Orioles hang on for win over Devil Rays
Diamondbacks GM works the phones about pitcher Johnson
NL: Wright wins 5th straight decision
Royal pain on first day for America
Ursuline golfer youngest finalist
Amazed Bellish wins title at home
Dektas turns to defense to defeat McCarthy
Armstrong rips media on suspect behavior
Bryant says he will remain with Lakers
BCS simplifies system in hopes of true champion
Some good news for Jones in long jump, at last
Olympic interactive multimedia from the AP
Sports today on TV, radio