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Monday, September 3, 2012
NIU reassigns offensive coordinator

By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com

Northern Illinois offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar's duties have been reassigned in order for him to focus on his fight against cancer, Huskies coach Dave Doeren announced on Monday.

Northern Illinois run-game coordinator Rod Carey and fullbacks/tight ends coach Joe Tripodi will take over Dunbar's responsibilities. Carey will be the team's offensive coordinator and will continue to coach the offensive line. Tripodi was elevated to a full-time assistant coach and will be involved in recruiting.

Dunbar received his cancer diagnosis shortly after being hired by Northern Illinois in February. He underwent aggressive treatment in the spring and was hopeful he would recover for the season. After Dunbar's latest medical update, he and Doeren decided his health was most important right now.

"Football was never a part of our conversation, this is about Mike Dunbar and what is best for his health," Doeren said in a statement. "I want his focus and attention to be on battling cancer, not on scoring points. He is a special member of our staff and every ounce of his energy needs to go toward winning this battle right now. Mike is a great man, a good father and an upper echelon coach. We will do everything we can to support him."

Dunbar, who has been coaching for 36 years, was grateful for the university's support.

"I am so appreciative of Dave Doeren and (athletic director) Jeff Compher, and the support I have received from the NIU football family, from the athletic department and from the administration," Dunbar said in a statement. "Everyone at NIU has been terrific. Right now, this is a personal battle and my family and I, along with my medical team, are going to take it on."

Northern Illinois had originally hired P.J. Fleck to be its offensive coordinator this season, but he resigned after one day to become the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receivers coach. Dunbar was named the offensive coordinator on Feb. 8.

Northern Illinois lost to Iowa in its season opener and will host Tennessee-Martin on Saturday.

"We've been dealing with this situation since March, so our staff is well-prepared," Doeren said. "We have three former offensive coordinators on our offensive staff in Rod Carey, Bob Cole and Mike Uremovich and I have total confidence in their ability to lead our offense this season."