Coach apologizes for post-recruiting visit arrest

Updated: June 12, 2004, 10:25 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins has been suspended indefinitely for his arrest earlier this week on a drunken driving charge.

Athletic director Bob Goin announced the disciplinary action at a Saturday morning news conference.

Bob Huggins
An emotional Bob Huggins apologizes Friday for what he called a "very poor decision."

Huggins is ready to accept the suspension, a source told ESPN.com's Andy Katz late Friday night. Announcing a suspension of an indeterminate length allows university officials, Huggins, and his lawyer time to decide what penalty is agreeable for all involved.

The source told Katz that a six-month suspension is a strong possibility.

Huggins' arrest occurred Tuesday after the coach hosted a recruit earlier in the day on campus.

Huggins, who has no plans to resign, did apologize during a Friday night news conference of his own. Accompanied by his wife and two daughters, the coach declined to take questions. His lawyer, Richard Katz, said he could not answer questions because of the legal issues involved.

"I made a very poor decision that's reflected negatively on the basketball program and the university," Huggins said, fighting tears. "For that, I deeply regret it. I take responsibility for my actions. I'm going to do my part to make sure that something like this will never happen again."

The police report on Huggins' arrest said the coach slurred his words, and there was vomit on the driver's door when he was stopped in Fairfax, a village 10 miles east of Cincinnati. He was arrested after he failed a sobriety test, police said. His wife came to pick him up from the police station.

Authorities in Fairfax released a police cruiser video showing Huggins' field sobriety test, which police said he failed.

Huggins' arrest came hours after he and his coaching staff met with recruit Kyle Madsen of Columbus, Ohio, Dublin High School and Madsen's family for an unofficial visit on Cincinnati's campus.

Neil Madsen, Kyle's father, told ESPN.com late Friday night that the family, Huggins and his staff had lunch on campus in the early part of the visit, but only water and soda were consumed. The five-hour meeting ended at 6 p.m., at which time Huggins went out for drinks with staff members, the source told Katz.

"We were back in Columbus by 8 p.m.," Neil Madsen told ESPN.com. "There's no connection, as far as I can tell [between the visit and Huggins' DUI incident]."

Huggins was scheduled to appear Friday evening in court in Fairfax, but that was postponed. Police Chief Rick Patterson said it was Huggins' first offense. He could be fined and sentenced to three days in jail.

Huggins' arrest is the latest black mark on a program that has been trying to get beyond a series of player arrests and NCAA rules violations in the 1990s that led to probation and a loss of basketball scholarships.

Huggins, 50, had a massive heart attack less than two years ago but didn't miss any time coaching the team. The Bearcats went 26-7 last season, won a share of Conference USA's regular season title and lost to Illinois in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

He was put on a diet and lost weight after the heart attack, which occurred while he was recruiting in Pennsylvania on Sept. 28, 2002. Huggins gained back some weight last season, when he said the most enduring change in his routine was that he got more sleep.

When officers pulled Huggins' car over at 11:35 p.m. Tuesday night, he said, "Don't do this to me," but was cooperative, according to the report by Sgt. Jeff Bronson and two other officers.

Officers said Huggins told them he was on his way home after talking to recruits and had had a "couple" of beers. He denied that he was under the influence of alcohol.

The report said Huggins was stopped because his car was straying out of its lane, and he sat at a light for 10 seconds after it turned green. Officers noticed vomit on the inside of the driver's side door and reported a strong smell of alcohol, prompting them to administer the field sobriety test.

Huggins had slurred speech and red, watery eyes, the report said. Officers said he "staggered" out of the car and couldn't keep his balance during the sobriety test.

Asked to recite the alphabet from the letter "E" through "P," Huggins said, "E, F, G, H, I, K, L, N, Z," according to the police report. Asked to count backward from 67 to 54, he counted from 62 to 52, the report said.

Officers tried to give a breathalyzer test, but Huggins couldn't complete it, the report said.

The week was tumultuous for the state's two highest-profile basketball programs. Also Tuesday, Jim O'Brien was fired as Ohio State coach after admitting he gave $6,000 in 1999 to Aleksandar Radojevic, a Buckeyes recruit who never played for or attended Ohio State.

Andy Katz is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.