Friday, September 12, 2008
Meyer, NCAA's leading active men's coach in wins, has treatable cancer
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- Northern State basketball coach Don Meyer is out of intensive care after a car accident last month but learned Friday he has cancer that can be treated.
The 63-year-old Meyer is the NCAA's leader among active men's basketball coaches with 891 wins.
Meyer hopes to return this season, although athletic director Bob Olson said it's too early to tell how long recovery will take. He stressed the importance of the coach's attitude.
"He'll be an impatient patient," Olson said. "We fully expect him to be back as soon as possible."
Laurie Nichols, interim president of the Division II school in Aberdeen, read a statement from Meyer at a news conference, saying doctors found a slow-growing cancer in his liver and bowels.
"What's great about this is I would not have known about the cancer had I not had the wreck," the coach wrote. "God has blessed with the one thing we all need, which is truth. I can now fight with all of my ability."
Assistant coach Randy Baruth said Meyer already had a bar installed on his bed so he can do pull-ups.
"He's ready to roll," Baruth said.
Olson said Meyer will contribute to the team during his recovery, but his focus is not on the victory list.
"The person that cares least about wins is Coach Meyer," he said.
Doctors found the cancer during emergency surgery, one of several he has undergone, but waited until he had recovered enough to tell him.
Meyer said the oncologist told him cancer treatment will not interfere with the rehabilitation of his left leg. On Sept. 5, his car collided with an oncoming semi. His was the first of several vehicles carrying the basketball team to a hunting lodge. Meyer was the only one injured, and the accident remains under investigation.
Meyer, known for his summer basketball camps, joined Northern State in 1999 and in his third season led the Wolves to the 2002 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference co-championship. He also coached at Hamline University in Minnesota and Lipscomb University in Tennessee.