As the leaves begin to turn, the steadiest force on campus has seen some sway in recent weeks. The Gonzaga community was shocked to hear of Head Coach Mark Few’s DUI citation on Sept. 6 in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
The very next day the halls in buildings from Jepson to the John J. Hemmingson Center were buzzing about possible repercussions. Fans want to know what’s next for the GU men’s basketball program and its leader.
“While the facts of the situation are still being evaluated, we understand its severity and the legal process that will follow," said Chris Standiford, GU director of athletics "As a Gonzaga employee, we respect Coach Few’s right to privacy and will refrain from further comment at this time.”
As the situation is further evaluated and the season approaches, punishment for Few’s actions looms.
The only figure capable of comparison with Few and his current situation is current West Virginia Head Men’s Basketball Coach Bob Huggins. Huggins was arrested on suspicion of DUI in June of 2004 in the midst of his tenure as the head coach at the University of Cincinnati.
Huggins had come under fire before his arrest for having a poor graduation rate among players (27/95) in addition to multiple players being arrested for issues ranging from domestic violence to punching a police horse. A number of these players were acquitted or had the charges dropped.
Huggins was, and is, one of the most respected basketball minds in Division
I with a career record of 900-381 in addition to two Final Four appearances and numerous conference championships at Cincinnati.
Huggins initially faced an indefinite suspension handed down by the university that persisted until the beginning of the 2004-05 basketball season. In court, his license was suspended for six months and he received a $350 fine and the option of three days in jail or in driver’s intervention.
In the subsequent season, Cincinnati made the NCAA tournament for a 14th straight season under Huggins. Following the season, school president Nancy Zimpher did not automatically renew Huggin’s contract and tensions began to rise between the coach and the president.
The discussions came to a head in August of 2005 when Cincinnati offered Huggins $3 million to resign or be fired. Huggins took the money, resigned and took a year off from coaching before resuming his profession at Kansas State for a year and then moving to WVU.
GU's men’s basketball program has dealt with DUI issues in the past. In October of 2016, standout point guard Josh Perkins was arrested for DUI outside Kennedy Apartments.
Perkins was found asleep in the driver’s seat of his car and was not technically operating the vehicle when officers woke him up using flashlights. Perkins submitted to a voluntary field sobriety test before being arrested. Ultimately, he was suspended for the first two games of the 2016-17 season before helping the Zags reach the national championship game.
“We take this situation very seriously, and we will give Josh the support that he needs to help him learn from this,” Few said in a 2016 statement following Perkins' arrest.
As Zag fans wait with bated breath for the fate of their beloved coach, they shouldn’t worry about the possibility of Few being fired. Few will likely serve a multiple game suspension in addition to the legal charges he faces. Few has run a clean program in his time at GU with three players total being arrested in his 23 seasons while maintaining a high graduation rate.
Don’t expect to see Few on the sideline when the Bulldogs open up against Dixie State on Nov. 9. With his chief assistant Tommy Lloyd roaming the sidelines in Tucson, the Zags will have to adapt on the fly as they enter the season ranked No. 1 in the nation with championship aspirations.