University of Connecticut men’s basketball coach Jim Calhoun is taking an indefinite leave for treatment of a lower-back ailment, the school’s athletic department said on its Facebook page.
Calhoun, 69, won’t coach at least the team’s next two games as he receives daily treatment for spinal stenosis, which is causing “severe pain” and limited mobility, according to the statement. Assistant George Blaney, in his 11th season with the team, will take over head coaching duties in Calhoun’s absence.
Calhoun led UConn to last season’s National Collegiate Athletic Association championship, his third in 26 years at the Storrs, Connecticut-based university. His 869 wins rank third among active coaches in college basketball’s top level, trailing fellow Basketball Hall of Fame members Mike Krzyzewski (919) of Duke and Jim Boeheim (878) of Syracuse.
The national championship run came in the midst of an NCAA investigation into the Huskies’ program. On Feb. 22, Calhoun was suspended by the NCAA for the first three Big East conference games of this season for failing to monitor recruiting violations that included more than $6,000 in improper benefits to a former player.
In January 2010, Calhoun took a seven-game leave for an undisclosed illness. At that time, the school said the condition was unrelated to his history of prostate cancer, which required surgery in 2003.
The Huskies are 14-7, 4-5 in the Big East. The team plays tomorrow at home against Seton Hall (15-7, 4-6), and on Feb. 6 at Louisville (17-5, 5-4).