Texas A&M men’s basketball coach Billy Kennedy said today that he has been diagnosed with the early stages of Parkinson’s disease but plans to “come back soon” and coach the Aggies, who are co-favorites with Kansas to win this year’s Big 12 title.
Kennedy, hired in May after five seasons at Murray State, has been on medical leave for the past two weeks and did not attend the team’s Maroon Madness function that marked the start of basketball practices on Oct. 14. In a statement released Thursday by school officials, Kennedy said he went to the doctor after experiencing neck and shoulder pain “for several months” and learned of the Parkinson’s diagnosis.
“At this time, I am heeding the advice of my doctors and addressing the disease and its symptoms,” Kennedy said. “We have begun a long-term treatment plan … My intention is to return to the court as soon as it is prudent.”
Until Kennedy returns, assistant coach Glynn Cyprien _ who represented A&M at last week’s Big 12 media days in Kansas City, Mo. _ will continue to run practices and, if necessary, coach games. A&M opens its season Nov. 3, with an exhibition game against Dallas Baptist. The regular-season opener is Nov. 9 against Liberty.
A&M athletic director Bill Byrne said the school’s “foremost concern” is for Kennedy and his family and that he expects Kennedy, 47, to “have a long and illustrious coaching career here in Aggieland.”
A&M point guard Dash Harris said he spoke today with Kennedy and the coach “looks well” and “seems happy.”
“He’s the same coach Kennedy that he always has been,” Harris said. “Our prayers are with him. We’re looking forward to a great season, a season with him on the sideline.”
_ Jimmy Burch