West Virginia and Oakland Today

Earlier this week, West Virginia’s men’s basketball coach, Bob Huggins was doing a live interview on the radio and uttered a homophobic slur.  Actually, taken in context, it may have been a dual slur – – homophobic and religious – – but that is not really important.  Huggins is 70 years old; he is clearly an adult and is in the final stages of his career as a basketball coach.  In today’s hyper-sensitive and easily triggered environment, what might be his fate?

Huggins apologized as is required behavior in such situations; and so, the first reaction was to debate the sincerity of his apology – – something only he could possibly know.  That was followed by people exhibiting and expressing varying levels of shock and horror that a person who is supposed to mold young men into model citizenry would even think such vile thoughts.  And soon after that came calls for his head on a plate – – figuratively of course; folks merely wanted him fired and shunned.

Here is West Virginia University’s course of action:

  • Huggins will be suspended for 3 games next year.
  • Huggins’ salary will be reduced by $1M – – and that money will go to the school’s LGBTQ Center.
  • Huggins will be required to meet with “LGBTQ leaders” in West Virginia – – presumably to get him to better appreciate that segment of society.
  • Huggins’ multi-year contract will convert to a year-to-year deal removing future salary guarantees.

On one hand, I doubt that any of the sanctions leveled here will change whatever it was in Bob Huggins’ mind or soul that led him to say what he did.  Then again, I doubt that firing him from his job and relegating him to the status of a non-person would make that sort of change either.

At the same time, please do not take the position that Huggins’ remarks have gone unnoticed or unpunished.  Granted that the suspension means little to nothing and the meetings with “LGBTQ leaders” will probably be staged events at best.  But Huggins has been “fined” $1M and has had future salary guarantees taken from him.  That loss of salary will not put Huggins and his family in the poorhouse, but it is something significant.

  • [Aside:  The WVU President is E. Gordon Gee who – interestingly – has a history of uttering religious slurs of his own.  When he was President of Ohio State, he was asked about the possibility of Notre Dame joining the Big Ten Conference and he said that would not happen because Notre Dame’s priests are “not good partners” and that you can’t trust “those damned Catholics”.  And this is the guy handing out punishments to Bob Huggins.  Physician, heal thyself…]

Moving on … The ongoing search by the Oakland A’s for a new stadium/home appears now to rest on the Nevada State Legislature appropriating some funds to flesh out the financing for a new stadium in Las Vegas on a tract of land that the A’s owners have purchased there.  There is posturing and dancing going on as this comes to a head; legislators say the A’s have not given sufficient guarantees about moving should the monies be appropriated and the A’s saying they can’t do anything more without funding certainty.  Tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum…

Personally, I do not like the idea of taxpayers footing the bill for stadiums unless the jurisdiction owns the stadium and leases it at a reasonable price to the team in town.  That never seems to happen.  However, the folks who are in power to govern Las Vegas seem to have decided that having major league sports in the city is beneficial to the city and the residents there.  If the A’s actually take up residence in Las Vegas, that will give the city franchises in the NFL, NHL, WNBA and MLB.  Last I checked, Nevada was a jurisdiction based in democracy; if the folks in charge in Las Vegas are wrong and the people who live in Las Vegas recognize that the vison of the city as a sports hub is not what the people want, then the people can go to the polls and run these guys out of town.

If I were a resident in some other part of Nevada remote from Las Vegas, I would surely not want my legislative representatives to spend some of my tax dollars in this way.  But I am not a resident of Nevada so my opinion on that subject is just that – – my opinion; I have no dog in this fight.

It does seem to me that the city of Oakland has more to lose here than Las Vegas has to gain.  The economy of Las Vegas is rather robust as is; adding an MLB team to the list of “attractions” there seems to be of marginal value to the city of Las Vegas and its “prestige”.  Oakland, on the other hand, stands to lose something that is an identifier for the city – a recognizable entity directly associated with the city.  Moreover, this is not the first such recognizable entity that has been lost by Oakland:

  1. Oakland lost the NFL’s Raiders – – twice
  2. Oakland lost the NBA’s Warriors
  3. Oakland lost the NHL’s Seals – – eventually becoming the San José Sharks
  4. Oakland now stands to lose MLB’s A’s …

The folks in power in Oakland have chosen to resist agreeing to plans that would cost the city large sums of money to retain the A’s domicile there.  I agree philosophically with their position; I would support those elected officials were I resident in Oakland; and at the same time, I see that the city is going to pay a price for that principled position.  Even if the Nevada State Legislature does not come thorough with funding, I think the writing is on the wall that the A’s are leaving town and going “somewhere else”.

Finally, here is what Groucho Marx had to say about “principles”:

“These are my principles.  If you don’t like them, I have others.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



5 thoughts on “West Virginia and Oakland Today”

  1. I agree with your rant re Huggins, but I actually thought his apology, however sincere it might or might not have been, was one of the best I have seen/heard. He actually said he wrong with no equivocations, and promised to do better. And, $1 million is a lot punishment for spewing ugly words on the radio. Have you listened to the radio recently???

    1. Doug:

      Reading the text of Huggins’ apology, I actually think he prepared most – – if not all – – of it himself. It did not read to me as if it was a carefully polished PR statement.

  2. E. Gordon Gee…now there is a fine example of academic leadership…one of those IBM college presidents: I’ve Been Moved…pops up like a bad penny.

  3. I wonder if Oakland civic leaders will one day regret their decisions around the negotiations with the Oakland Raiders.

    1. TenaciousP:

      I think they might regret losing both the Raiders and the A’s because the departure of both teams will demand expending money to get rid of the eyesore known as the Oakland Coliseum

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