MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Those who follow college basketball and West Virginia know, that in the last nine months, Bob Huggins has coached another 20-win team to a fourth consecutive NCAA bid.
He has also landed the largest recruiting class (seven major college rookies and two Atlantic 10 transfers) of his three-decade career.
What many don't know is that Huggins, 57, has stepped up another effort with a special dedication in his native state.
Since last Labor Day weekend, thanks mostly to three "roasts" or "salute" dinners headlined by the veteran Mountaineer coach, the cancer research endowment fund dedicated on his mother's behalf has Huggins closing in on the $500,000 mark.
"The great thing is that when we do these things, most of the money is matched by the state (through the West Virginia Research Trust Fund, a $35 million Legislature-approved funding vehicle available through 2015 to WVU)," Huggins said. "We know we have a long way to go.
"We need to have enough money to be able to really do something. I've been involved with a lot of charities in my coaching career, but this is a special deal, and not just because of my mom.
"The money stays here in the state, here at the university, to benefit people in West Virginia. To me, that's a whole lot better than some national organization where you really don't know exactly where the money goes."
The Norma Mae Huggins Cancer Research Fund is based at WVU's Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center. Will Armistead, the cancer center's director of development, said the Huggins Fund, with matches received and those pending, "is a little north of $467,000 right now."
Before the coach's concerted efforts to boost the fund, Armistead said, that number was in the $35,000-38,000 range.
Most of that came from family contributions - Huggins would put money from his speaking engagements in the pot - and memorial gifts after Norma Mae Huggins' death from colon cancer in 2003.
In the last nine months, Huggins roasts and dinners in Morgantown (approximately $108,000), Washington, Pa. ($60,000) and Fairmont ($40,000) have provided matchable funds.