Saturday, June 12, 2004

Huggins: Won't let it happen again

Drunken-driving charge is lodged

By Dustin Dow and Meagan Pollnow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

University of Cincinnati basketball coach Bob Huggins made a solemn promise Friday evening that he would strive to avoid repeating the mistakes that led to his arrest Tuesday night in Fairfax on a drunken-driving charge.

University of Cincinnati athletic director Bob Goin will conduct a news conference this morning to discuss Huggins' situation. Neither he nor UC President Nancy Zimpher have given any indication that Huggins will be asked to resign or enter an alcohol rehab program.

Zimpher made only a brief comment as she prepared for commencement ceremonies Friday.

View the police report

 Video icon Police in-cruiser video of Huggins being pulled over

 Video icon Raw video of Huggins' Friday news conference

"My very first priority is this commencement and the integrity of this institution and the celebration of today," she said. "But I am confident with my athletic director, Bob Goin, and he and I will act appropriately and swiftly."

When reached by phone Friday, Goin declined to comment.

Huggins, 50, with his family and his lawyer Richard Katz at the university's Kingsgate Conference Center, expressed deep regret to his family, the university, UC players and the city of Cincinnati Friday night.

He did not take questions after making a three-minute statement in which he admitted to making a "very poor decision that's reflected negatively on the basketball program and the university."

According to police reports released Friday, Huggins Tuesday said he drank a couple of beers and was talking to recruits before driving home.

The police report from Tuesday night indicated vomit on the car door and slurred speech and described Huggins as staggering out of his Lexus SUV. He was unable to complete a breathalyzer test. He also failed to correctly recite the alphabet.

Huggins suffered a heart attack in September 2002, and doctors have told him to curtail his beer drinking.

"I take responsibility for my actions," Huggins said Friday. "I'm going to do my part to make sure that something like this will never happen again."

Katz said Friday that some media reports were erroneous, but he wasn't specific, and did not return messages left on his cell phone.

"We want to see that this matter is resolved as quickly as possible," Huggins said. "At this point, I've retained counsel to explore my options, and I hope that my critics as well as my friends alike will respect my right to see the process through."

Katz waived Huggins' court hearing Friday in Fairfax Mayor's Court. A later date for the hearing has not been set.

In 15 seasons with the Bearcats, Huggins has compiled a 374-119 record and took the team to the NCAA's Final Four in 1992. He has led the team to 13 straight NCAA appearances.

Bob Huggins with his wife June and daughters Jackie and Jenna during a press conference at the Kingsgate Conference Center on the U.C. campus.
(Tony Jones photo)
But off the court, there has been some turbulence, with several players encountering legal problems. The university was put on two years' probation in November 1998 for violations centering on the eligibility of center Charles Williams.

Huggins was stopped at 11:35 p.m. Tuesday and was arrested at 11:55 p.m. after an officer spotted an SUV weaving in the eastbound lanes of Wooster Pike near Watterson. When the officer stopped Huggins, the coach said, "Don't do this to me," the police report said.

After he was arrested and taken to the police station, he was unable to give a complete breath test. Huggins was ticketed, and his wife picked him up, the police report said. He was ticketed on charges of drunken driving and failing to keep his vehicle in his lane of traffic.

Huggins' 2004 grey Lexus, which is registered to Lexus RiverCenter in Covington, was towed.

The timing of the story was unfortunate for the university. Several students Friday said they'd prefer to focus on their graduations rather than Huggins' arrest.

"From the university standpoint, you're probably not going to see anything more than a slap on the wrist because he's Coach Huggins," Nathan Little, 22, said.


Enquirer reporter Kristina Goetz contributed to this report.

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