Bearcats staff caught in limbo

Updated: July 12, 2004, 1:00 PM ET
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- Cincinnati associate head coach Dan Peters stood atop a bleacher at the Nike Camp on IUPUI's campus Friday, looking like every other coach in attendance.

Peters was sporting a white golf shirt with the Cincinnati logo, a 'C' with a Bearcat's claws above the letter.

Peters played the role that athletic director Bob Goin gave him last month: interim head coach for Bob Huggins while the legendary 'Hugs' remains suspended after his arrest for DUI.

But playing the part could get old fast. Cincinnati's staff is in limbo as it waits for a decision on Huggins' status.

"I don't think the school has told him anything (about a return)," Peters said Friday. "Hopefully we'll know something in a week or so."

The staff doesn't expect him back this month during the evaluation period. But they need him to resume his duties in September when they can call recruits.

The Class of 2005 will be Cincinnati's first since the school announced its move to the 16-member Big East in 2005-06. But Peters and assistant Andy Kennedy might not have an answer for recruits when it's time to lock up commitments for the early-signing period in November.

"The question we got in June was, 'When is coach coming back?' " Peters said of answering recruits' questions. "That's hard. How do you answer that? We don't have an answer."

Huggins was arrested on June 8 in the town of Fairfax, a suburb of Cincinnati. The police report said Huggins told the officer that he wasn't under the influence of alcohol or drugs. But Huggins was unable to perform a field sobriety test, slurred his speech, and had red, watery eyes. He staggered out of his car after being stopped. The report also stated there was a strong stench of alcohol and that he had vomited inside the car.

The arrest was videotaped and shown on a number of networks, including ESPN and CNN.

Huggins was suspended indefinitely on June 12. He pleaded no contest to the drunken driving charge on June 15. He was ordered to pay a $350 fine plus court costs and to attend a three-day, state-certified intervention program. He also couldn't drive for 15 days and then his driving was limited for a six-month period to driving to and from work or for medical purposes.

But Huggins isn't allowed to initiate contact with the players. He can't go to the office. So, where has he been outside of attending his court-ordered class?

"Fishing," said Peters, who talks to him a few times during the week.

"He'll be all right," Peters said. "He'll battle back. He's been exercising every day. He's probably walking at least an hour a day and that makes him feel better. He's taking time for his personal health. There was so much demand on him that he never put time aside for his health. And he's doing more than what he was told to do by the court."

Peters wouldn't specify what Huggins is doing beyond the court orders.

"He's obviously regretful, embarrassed and knows he made a mistake," Peters said. "He knows he affected a lot of people. It's been real hard.

"This is awkward since he's as good a friend as I've got but the best thing I can do is do my job," Peters said. "The best thing our players can do is take care of business."

Forward Jason Maxiell was doing his part. He wore a 'Bob Huggins Basketball Camp' jersey Friday while working as a counselor at the Nike Camp. He worked the camp, but Huggins didn't since he was suspended.

"We know that he's going come back and we know that there are consequences if we don't play hard, because he'll find out," Maxiell said. "I've got no doubt whatsoever that he'll be back."

Maxiell said he hasn't talked to Huggins and didn't try to call him, which he thought was against the rules of Huggins' suspension.

"I'm confident that he'll be back, ready to come back to work and be ready to go," Maxiell said.

The staff is just as confident but knows that nothing is guaranteed. That's why there is still some trepidation.

If Huggins doesn't return, and there were some rumblings that he could have been fired after the public nature of the DUI video, then the whole staff could be gone.

"I've got a family and two kids and one in college next year, so it's not easy now," Peters said. Peters is usually the assistant that stays home, making sure the Cincinnati players take care of their academics and ensuring that he's around to troubleshoot on campus if need be.

The Bearcats still have a commitment from Tyree Evans, a 6-2 recruit out of the Winchendon School (Mass.) who gave the commitment on June 28, according to The InsidersHoops.com -- after Huggins' arrest and suspension.

There had been some talk that Huggins would return in time for practice in October if his behavior remains good. But the staff knows it needs him earlier for recruiting if he's deemed healthy.

"But we don't have the answer yet of when he's coming back," Peters said of the unknown the staff faces this summer. "We just don't have it."

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

ALSO SEE