Fairness WV’s Statement on Coach Bob Huggins

Coach Bob Huggins embarrassed his team, his university and Mountaineers everywhere yesterday by casually using a homophobic slur and disparaging transgender people in a radio interview. It’s well known that this slur has been a tool to torment and harass our community. There is no excuse for using that kind of language in the year 2023. 

Coach Huggins’ words are particularly painful because he is loved by thousands of West Virginians, including many LGBTQ people. Thousands of young Mountaineers look up to Coach Huggins, and this week they saw their role model using slurs and demeaning another team for their faith. His apology was a good first step, but now he needs to show us that his words are not empty. 

One of the most important things Coach Huggins can do right now is to listen to the people he has hurt. Our team will gladly offer our time to help the WVU athletics department learn more about the impact of his comments and to understand the harm that these slurs cause. Ultimately, though, it’s up to Coach Huggins and university officials to make amends and prove to our community they understand the seriousness of this harmful rhetoric.

You can draw a direct line through history from this dehumanizing language to the growing wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation that is sweeping across our country. Lawmakers in Coach Huggins’ own state have introduced bills to ban rainbows from the classroom and to ban drag queens from performing in public, just to name a few. Our community has increasingly been under attack, and we desperately need leaders who understand that hate has no place in West Virginia — including on our basketball courts.



Please direct questions and interview requests to press@fairnesswv.org

Fairness West Virginia is the statewide civil rights advocacy organization dedicated to fair treatment and civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer West Virginians. Our mission is to ensure LGBTQ people can be open, honest and safe at home, at work, and in the community. We are open to everyone who believes in fundamental fairness.