I've always respected this guy, and have thought him to be one of the excellent coaches of college basketball. Here's hoping he comes back soon and healthy.
Pitino to take medical leave of absence from Louisville
Chris Duncan, Associated Press
Published January 27, 2004 RICK27
LOUISVILLE, KY. -- Louisville coach Rick Pitino is taking an indefinite leave of absence because of health reasons.
"I have been in excruciating pain the last three or four games," Pitino said Monday. "It's getting worse day by day."
Pitino said he first noticed the pain during a golf outing last summer. He said doctors first treated it as a muscle tear, but when it didn't heal, they began looking for another cause.
Pitino, 51, said the pain in his left side was "urological related," and that he had been dealing with it for four to five months. He said doctors have ruled out prostate cancer, but they have yet to determine what is causing the pain. He will seek treatment at the Cleveland Clinic.
Louisville (15-1) is ranked fourth in this week's AP Top 25.
Pitino said he did not know how many games he would miss. The Cardinals play host to Houston on Wednesday.
"It could be a couple of days, it could be a couple of weeks," Pitino said. "Last night, I was doubled over in pain."
Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said Pitino told him about the pain during the past few weeks.
"I know he's been struggling. Last night it probably came to a head," Jurich said. "He wants to get this addressed."
Assistant Kevin Willard, the son of Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard who last week pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol, will coach the team in Pitino's absence.
Pitino, who won a national championship with Kentucky in 1996 and led Providence to the Final Four in 1987, ranks among the top 10 in active college coaches in winning percentage.
He arrived in Louisville in March 2001 after 3 1/2 disappointing seasons in the NBA with the Celtics. He succeeded retired Hall of Fame coach Denny Crum at Louisville.
Two other prominent coaches took leaves of absence for medical reasons during the regular season in recent years. Syracuse's Jim Boeheim missed three games in December 2001 after having surgery for an enlarged prostate. Connecticut's Jim Calhoun was out for 16 days last February after having prostate cancer surgery.