Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Counterpoint on Huggins' dismissal

I am once again put in the unenviable position of having to defend Bob Huggins, who I despise, but…

If you want to make the case that he should be fired because of the off-the-court behavior of his players, fair enough, though I would argue that incidents have decreased over the past several years. If it’s because of the DUI, they should have done it last year when it happened. If it’s because of the grad rates, it should have happened five years ago, instead of now when 11 players have received degrees in the past four years. If it’s because of low player GPA, then I suggest that the school hire an attorney that can spell the word ‘team’, or at least use a spell checker. And if they just wanted him gone, then Zimpher should have had the guts to do it in March, instead of wait until after all the UCATS donation came in to pull this (and if she has any integrity she’ll give a full refund to any donor that wants their money back).

Those who say that firing Huggins will improve the academic image of the university are fooling themselves. Show me one graduate of UC that didn’t get a job because Bob Huggins tarnished the reputation of their education. I don’t know where anyone got this idea that UC is a borderline Ivy league school; it’s average at best. Maybe the reason for its low academic reputation is that it just isn’t that good. Why have Michigan, who has been racked with probation issues, and Tulane, who went through point shaving scandals, not had issues with their reputations? Because they’re great academic schools.

And don’t think that UC is going to get anything better than a third-tier coach that will be nothing more than a puppet for Zimpher. Last year’s recruiting class stunk because Huggins was a lame duck coach; this year’s will be worse, because Andy Kennedy (or whomever is the interim coach) knows they’ll be gone in a year. No established coach, or even a decent up-and-comer for that matter, would take this job with two lost classes; if you think one would, I challenge you to give me names and I’ll tell you why they won’t come here. Also, if I’m the incoming coach, I want specific guidelines on what the academic expectations are. If graduating 11 players in four years isn’t good enough, then what are the parameters?

In the end, it’s Nancy’s school, and if she wants to fire him, she’s got every right to. But I think she’s isolated herself so much from any dissenting opinions that she doesn’t fully grasp what she’s gotten herself into here. And when the donations stop flowing in (and they’ve already lost a $4 million one) and she has to start raising tuition significantly, she’s going to have to explain why this was a good idea.


Reality Bytes

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