Texas A&M Aggies' coach Billy Kennedy announced he's been diagnosed with early stages of Parkinson's disease and will take some time off from coaching.
At this time, I am heeding the advice of my doctors and addressing the disease and its symptoms. We have begun a long-term treatment plan and recovery. My doctors are encouraged and are telling me I will be able to come back soon.
First and foremost, this is sad news and we wish Kennedy a speedy recovery. In his wake the Aggies will be coached by Glenn Cyprien. From the tones of statements it sounds like Kennedy should be back for at least some of the season. Missing him on the sideline could be especially tough for a team picked near the top of the Big 12, as he's a new coach trying to implement a system with players he didn't recruit.
Senior Dash Harris released a very thoughtful statement of full support too. This is another story that reminds us all that coaches and athletes are people too, living in the same world as the rest of us. We spend the whole year projecting, praising and criticizing but often forget that the people and families behind the games and press conferences have lives off the floor.
See full statements after the jump.
Coach Billy Kennedy:
"As some of you know, I have been experiencing neck and shoulder pain for several months. While not debilitating, the pain has affected my ability to sleep with any duration or regularity. As a result of this and my schedule, I had reached a state of exhaustion and was advised by my attending physician to take some time to restore my strength and to further explore the underlying cause of my discomfort.
Through testing, it has been discovered that I am dealing with an early stage of Parkinson's disease. At this time, I am heeding the advice of my doctors and addressing the disease and its symptoms. We have begun a long-term treatment plan and recovery. My doctors are encouraged and are telling me I will be able to come back soon.
I am very grateful for the outpouring of support and the prayers from friends, family and the Aggie Network. We have a good prognosis, be encouraged, and join with me in eager anticipation for the success that awaits us. My intention is to return to the court as soon as it is prudent. Until my return, I have great confidence in Coach (Glynn) Cyprien and the staff I have assembled to lead this great group of young men and this basketball program."
AD Bill Byrne:
"Our foremost concern is for Coach Kennedy and his family. Billy knows he can count on us and the Aggie Network for support. I fully expect Billy to have a long and illustrious coaching career here in Aggieland when he is cleared to return to the court. Meanwhile, I have confidence in the staff Billy has hired and in our basketball team. I'm anxious to get the season started and to get Billy back on the basketball court as well."
Senior Dash Harris:
"After speaking with coach today, he knows that we're there for him and we know that he's there for us. He's doing better and we're just trying to get him back on the floor as soon as possible. He left this team in great hands. We have great leadership to a man on this team and on this staff, and everyone knows what he expects so once he comes back it'll be a smooth ride. He looks well, he seems happy and he's the same Coach Kennedy that he always has been. Our prayers are with him. We're looking forward to a great season, a season with him on the sideline."