Wednesday, August 31, 2005

What now for UC hoops program?

Just returned from vacationing in Seattle, which is a wonderful town, by the way. This is my first opportunity to weigh in on the firing of University of Cincinnati basketball coach Bob Huggins.

So, here goes ...

The University of Cincinnati’s entrance into the Big East Conference was expected to be greeted with a great deal of pomp and circumstance. Instead, it’s been a time of protest on the Corryville campus.

When head basketball coach Bob Huggins was given his walking papers by university president Nancy Zimpher it ignited a firestorm of local and national scrutiny.

Honestly, if you’re looking for further confirmation of Bob Huggins’ sainthood, turn the page. He made his own bed in many respects. The negative image of UC’s hoops program, right or wrong, is real.

“We expect to recruit very strong students on the court and in the classroom,” said Zimpher. “We expect our coaches to be role models, and we expect our students to be role models. I will not apologize for setting high standards.”

Zimpher took a stand that few, if any, college administrators these days are willing to take. Her stance is noble but reckless.

Cries of “How dare she!” echoed throughout town last week. But, Zimpher’s primary mistake is that she should have made the move sooner in order to ease the strain on recruiting.

Zimpher has made other significant and, at times, unpopular personnel moves during her tenure. But, changes in the law department rarely make news. Dumping big-time basketball coaches does.

She insists there’s a concrete vision for the University. What Zimpher needs now is a plan for the athletic program.

The big question on the Huggins front is not “Why?” but “What now?”.

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