MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University athletics has a rich tradition of success. The Mountaineers have had great teams, and have had great athletes and coaches, too.
Thirteen former WVU football players and coaches have been honored with a place in the College Football Hall of Fame.
Just three are enshrined in Canton, Ohio as NFL Hall of Famers.
Legend Jerry West is the only WVU basketball player or coach honored by the College Basketball Hall of Fame, founded in 2006.
Before this past weekend, West was one of just two former Mountaineers with his name on the list of Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famers.
Meanwhile, no former WVU baseball player or coach is a member of either the College Baseball or Major League Baseball halls of fame. Nor are any WVU women’s basketball coaches or players part of either basketball halls of fame.
That means entering Saturday, only five former Mountaineers had a spot reserved for them in one of the three major sports highest-ranking Hall of Fame
Their names: Jerry West (1980), Rod Thorn (2018), Sam Huff (1982), Joe Stydahar (1967), and Earle “Greasy” Neale (1969).
Bob Huggins joined that group Saturday night.
Huggins was enshrined by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Saturday in Springfield, Massachusetts.
“I’m blessed to be a part of the prestigious class, and truly humbled to be a part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame,” Huggins said to begin his speech. “It’s truly an honor to be on stage and be presented by two great West Virginians, two of the best to ever play at West Virginia University, and two individuals that have had a resounding impact in basketball history at the collegiate level and at the professional level.”
Huggins has amassed 916 victories in his college coaching career. That places him fourth on the NCAA D-I men’s basketball all-time wins list, and just four short of tying Jim Calhoun for third place.
Three hundred and twenty-six of those wins have come with the Bear in charge at his alma mater.
To many, Huggins’ enshrinement was long overdue.
Veteran college basketball reporter Andy Katz told Gold and Blue Nation, “He should’ve been in the Hall of Fame years ago.” Fellow Hall of Fame head coach Roy Williams called Huggins, “One of our great coaches in the game of basketball.”
Among his many honors, West has a statue outside of the WVU Coliseum. In 2016, West’s statue was joined by one depicting the great Hot Rod Hundley.
Former West Virginia assistant coach, and current Youngstown State men’s basketball head coach, Jerrod Calhoun hopes his mentor is next to receive the same honor.
“We got to get (the statue) up,” Calhoun told Gold and Blue Nation on Saturday. “Hopefully in the next couple months that talk picks up. Just something I always thought was natural to see a statue of coach Huggins outside the Coliseum.”
Less than 48 hours after joining basketball’s most elite fraternity, Huggins returned to work and was back inside the West Virginia basketball facility on Monday.
Hanging on the walls of the Mountaineers’ practice court are pictures of some of the best players in program history.
But patrolling the sideline and running practices is the Bear, who has joined the most exclusive group of Mountaineer players and coaches ever assembled.