WVU AD: Huggins took medication on empty stomach before fall
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia University basketball Coach Bob Huggins had taken medication on an empty stomach before he was injured in a fall in his hotel room last week, Athletic Director Oliver Luck said Thursday.
"He said he kind of stood up quickly and apparently had a bit of lightheadedness and tripped - and I don't know if he tripped, per se - but he fell down and hit the edge of a table," said Luck, who has had frequent contact with Huggins since his coach was hurt one week ago in Las Vegas.
Luck couldn't say what type of medication Huggins had taken but said he had every reason to "completely accept and believe" what Huggins reported.
Huggins, 56, was in Las Vegas with associate head coach Larry Harrison to recruit at a major AAU event.
Andrew Payne, vice chair of the university's board of governors and a friend of Huggins and members of his family, told the Daily Mail Sunday that Huggins was packing in his hotel room around 4 p.m. and due at the airport a short time later to fly to Florida for another AAU event.
Payne said Huggins fell and landed on a coffee table and also hit his head. Payne said Huggins had to call his brother, Larry, for help. Larry Huggins was in town as the coach of an AAU team from Ohio.
The WVU coach, who had a nearly fatal heart attack in 2002, at first was said to have broken four ribs and would be released the next day.
He was held for additional tests and observation and on Tuesday it was learned he had broken seven ribs.
Huggins was released from his Las Vegas hospital Wednesday, but it was not known if he had returned to Morgantown Thursday.
"I wasn't there with him, but from everything I see and from talking to him, he just fell," said WVU President Jim Clements. "Sometimes people get up too fast or haven't had lunch and are lightheaded and they lose their balance and fall.
"There's really nothing else to it. He's just a fellow who worked too hard or wasn't rested right and he fell. It happens to everybody."
Luck and Clements acknowledged that some have assumed Huggins' behavior may have contributed to his accident. Both said alcohol was not a factor, and neither was concerned with what others believe.
"Believe me, it's probably something Coach Huggins could care less about, as could I, in terms of what other people think," Luck said.
"I, like most other knowledgeable observers, think Bobby is a tremendous coach. Is he a choir boy? Probably not, but that to me is really immaterial at this point. I certainly have no reason to have any suspicions. I've got a lot of trust in Coach Huggins and I believe what he tells me."
Clements had full faith Huggins understood and respected the "spirit of his responsibility" as the head of the program and arguably the face of the athletic department.
"I know Coach Huggins and I think I know him unlike some other people know him and he's a great, great guy, a smart guy, a caring guy and a top-notch coach," Clements said. "People are always going to speculate, but the guy just fell and hopefully nobody makes more of it other than what it is."
Luck found a positive through it all and believes the suspicion is a teaching point for those who play for Huggins.
"They see all that extraneous stuff and realize they have to remove it from their field of vision and focus on what matters, and that's the game," Luck said. "And quite honestly, it's a compliment to how successful Bobby has been. People don't jump on unsuccessful coaches."
Huggins is 80-30 in three years in charge of his alma mater. He led WVU to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 his first season and the first round a year later. This past season the Mountaineers made the Final Four for the first time in 51 years.
Huggins has been injured in a fall or other mishap in each of his three offseasons at WVU.
In 2008 he headed to Charlotte, N.C., for an area alumni function, but fell and hit his head as he departed the plane while checking his cell phone for messages. Huggins was admitted to a hospital, but he was discharged the same day and made it to the event.
Last summer Huggins showed up at his annual fantasy camp with two black eyes. He said he walked into a door as he got up to use the restroom in the middle of the night.
The injuries are more serious this time.
Luck said if there comes a time when he's concerned about Huggins and the schedule he keeps as WVU's coach he'll initiate a conversation to talk about adjusting the pace. Luck said he's not at that stage yet and trusts Huggins knows himself better than anyone else.
"I've learned over the years that a lot of coaches put a lot of pressure on themselves," Luck said. "It's become a very demanding profession, particularly with regard to a high-profile sport, and certainly Bob is maybe the most high-profile guy we have coaching at West Virginia. But I also think he's been doing it for a long time, and I think he understands what he needs to do to decompress every now and then.
"Am I worried about his health or his condition? Yes, but I'd also say I'm worried about every coach at West Virginia's health and condition because we have very good coaches. They all have good motors and go pretty hard."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at email@example.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.