NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) – Red Storm head coach Steve Lavin is battling early stage prostate cancer, St. John’s announced on Friday.
“My family feels fortunate that through annual health exams, we detected my condition at an early stage,” Lavin said. “This past fall I didn’t want to distract our team, but with the season behind us, we are now working with medical experts and taking the proper steps to tackle this health challenge head on.”
According to the University, Lavin was diagnosed this past fall and will undergo treatments “in the coming weeks.”
“We are pleased that through early detection we determined Coach Lavin’s condition as a relatively low-grade cancer, and one that could wait for treatment until the conclusion of the basketball season,” said Jonathan Schiff, M.D. “I expect a complete cure of Coach Lavin’s condition and we anticipate a seamless continuation of his coaching duties.”
Lavin brought St. John’s back to respectability faster than even the most die-hard Red Storm fan could have hoped.
The squad made tremendous strides this season, rebounding from a 17-16 record in 2009-10 to make the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
Although St. John’s lost in the first round to Gonzaga, it was the Red Storm’s first big-stage tournament since 2002. He also helped the team crack the AP’s Top 25 college basketball poll for the first time in over a decade, ushering in a new era for MSG college hoops.
Those are huge accomplishments for the Big East newcomer.
Lavin was an assistant at Purdue in the Big Ten and then an assistant coach at UCLA in the Pac-10. He went on the Bruins’ top coaching job for seven seasons and when he was fired from there he spent seven years working as an analyst for ESPN.
Statement from St. John’s:
St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin was diagnosed with an early stage of prostate cancer this past fall and will undergo treatment in the coming weeks, the University announced on Friday. Lavin and his family have consulted with medical experts, and the recommended course of treatment allows Lavin to continue his coaching duties without interruption.
“My family feels fortunate that through annual health exams, we detected my condition at an early stage,” said Lavin, 46. “This past fall I didn’t want to distract our team, but with the season behind us, we are now working with medical experts and taking the proper steps to tackle this health challenge head on.”
“We are pleased that through early detection we determined Coach Lavin’s condition as a relatively low-grade cancer, and one that could wait for treatment until the conclusion of the basketball season. We have spoken to Steve and his family about his options, and will proceed with a course of treatment shortly,” said Jonathan Schiff, M.D., a board-certified urologist in private practice in New York City. “I expect a complete cure of Coach Lavin’s condition and we anticipate a seamless continuation of his coaching duties.”
For the past decade, Lavin has been highly involved with both Coaches vs. Cancer and The V Foundation for Cancer Research, participating in numerous fundraising and awareness events. For six years, he has been a part of the President’s Club leadership giving group of The V Foundation, a group that includes Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Kentucky’s John Calipari. Lavin has taken part in V Foundation events for the past 10 years while at UCLA, ESPN and St. John’s, and will serve as the Chairman of the Jimmy V Basketball New York Dinner Auction in October 2011.
“Our first priority is to support Steve and Mary as they take on this challenge,” said St. John’s Director of Athletics Chris Monasch. “We are encouraged by the early diagnosis and expect that Steve will continue his regular coaching activities. We do not anticipate any disruption in his duties as our head coach, and thank all in advance for their support of Steve and respect for his family’s privacy.”
In his first season, Lavin led the 2010-11 Red Storm back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the program’s now-vacated appearance in 2002. His inaugural campaign included a 21-12 overall record, marking St. John’s most wins since the 2002-03 season, with six Top 25 victories and four over Top 10 opponents. The USBWA District II Coach of the Year, Lavin transformed a team that finished in 13th place in the BIG EAST conference last season at 6-12 to a squad that tied for third this year at 12-6 – only twice before has a jump of such magnitude occurred in BIG EAST conference history. The Red Storm finished its season ranked 18th in the Associated Press Top 25, marking the first time it qualified for the postseason as a ranked team since 2000-01.
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