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Bearcats coach Huggins hospitalized after heart attack

Posted: Sunday, September 29, 2002

BEAVER, Pa. (AP) -- Cincinnati basketball coach Bob Huggins had a heart attack Saturday at Pittsburgh International Airport during a recruiting trip, a hospital spokesman said.

The 49-year-old Huggins was in serious but stable condition at Medical Center, Beaver, about 24 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, hospital spokesman Scott Monit said at a media briefing Saturday.

Huggins had chest pains at the airport, about 11 miles west of Pittsburgh, and was taken to a nearby hospital before he was transferred to the Medical Center, where he had surgery to implant a stent Saturday morning, Monit said. The tiny, metal mesh device is designed to keep Huggins once-clogged artery open.

Huggins will remain in the hospital at least two days but Monit offered no further prognosis and said future questions on Huggins' health should be directed to University of Cincinnati spokesman Tom Hathaway.

Huggins was at the airport for a flight to Milwaukee for a coaching clinic scheduled to include Maryland's Gary Williams and Oklahoma State's Eddie Sutton.

Monit didn't know what player Huggins was recruiting in the Pittsburgh area.

Huggins is known almost as much for his sideline temper as for turning Cincinnati into a perennial winner. He rages at his players' mistakes and at referees' calls that go against him.

He also has worried about having a heart attack. His father, a high school coach in northern Ohio, had one before the age of 40. Before Cincinnati's annual postseason banquet in 1998, Huggins had tests on his heart as a precaution.

Cincinnati football coach Rick Minter, in Philadelphia for a game against Temple, was stunned when he received the news.

''He's what put the University of Cincinnati back on the map in the early '90s,'' Minter said. ''We have the same work habits, same lifestyle. This could easily be me.''

The hard-driving Huggins was the third-youngest coach to get 500 wins in Division I. His career record is 500-172, including a 332-100 record in 13 seasons at Cincinnati.

The Bearcats have been ranked No. 1 several times during his tenure, but have made the Final Four just once. Cincinnati went 31-4 last season, losing to UCLA 105-101 in double overtime in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

In March, Huggins turned down a chance to coach West Virginia, his alma mater.

He came to Cincinnati before the 1989-90 season from Akron and immediately turned around a lagging program. He also became known for his antics during games -- throwing off his jacket, jumping while screaming at officials, berating players on the bench.

He became nationally prominent after leading the Bearcats to the 1992 Final Four by using a tenacious full-court press. He has turned down offers from two NBA teams -- the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers -- and overtures from other universities to stay in Cincinnati.

The basketball program also has been characterized by a poor graduation rate and criminal charges against players during Huggins' tenure. The NCAA imposed wide-ranging penalties on the program in 1998 for lack of institutional control.



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