Billy Kennedy has Parkinson's disease

Updated: October 27, 2011, 10:34 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Texas A&M men's basketball coach Billy Kennedy has been diagnosed with early-stage Parkinson's disease and is leaving the team to undergo treatment, Kennedy said in a news release issued by the school.

Kennedy said he had been experiencing neck and shoulder pain for several months, affecting his ability to sleep and leading to exhaustion. He took a leave of absence earlier this month to restore his strength and determine the cause of the problem.

[+] EnlargeBilly Kennedy
AP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezTexas A&M coach Billy Kennedy was diagnosed with early stage Parkinson's disease.

"I am heeding the advice of my doctors and addressing the disease and its symptoms," Kennedy said in a statement. "We have begun a long-term treatment plan and recovery. My doctors are encouraged and are telling me I will be able to come back soon."

Associate head coach Glynn Cyprien took over when Kennedy took his leave and will continue to be in charge of the team.

"We have a good prognosis," Kennedy said. "My intention is to return to the court as soon as it is prudent. Until my return, I have great confidence in coach Cyprien and the staff I have assembled to lead this great group of young men and this basketball program."

The 47-year-old Kennedy was hired from Murray State in May after Mark Turgeon left to become coach at Maryland.

Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne said the school's No. 1 concern is for Kennedy's health and that the Aggies will support him as he deals with this disease.

"Our foremost concern is for Coach Kennedy and his family," Byrne said in the release. "I fully expect Billy to have a long and illustrious coaching career here in Aggieland when he is cleared to return to the court. Meanwhile, I have confidence in the staff Billy has hired and in our basketball team. I'm anxious to get the season started and to get Billy back on the basketball court as well."

Senior Dash Harris said he spoke with Kennedy on Thursday.

"After speaking with coach today, he knows that we're there for him and we know that he's there for us. He's doing better and we're just trying to get him back on the floor as soon as possible," Harris said.

"He left this team in great hands. ... He looks well, he seems happy and 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."

The outgoing message on Kennedy's cell phone voice mail said that he's not returning calls now while he focuses on his recovery.

A number of Kenendy's close coaching friends, prior to learning of the diagnosis, told ESPN.com's Andy Katz over the past two weeks that they were concerned that Kennedy was under a lot of stress. Kennedy, a former Texas A&M assistant with roots in the Deep South, had seen the Aggies as a dream job, especially once the Aggies announced they were moving to the SEC.

The Aggies, who were selected with Kansas as favorites to win the Big 12 in the preseason poll by league coaches, open the season on Nov. 9 against Liberty.

Kennedy has previously been a head coach at Centenary, Southeastern Louisiana and Murray State. He has a career record of 221-179, with NCAA appearances in 2004-05 at Southeastern Louisiana and 2009-10 at Murray State.

Information from ESPN.com's Andy Katz and The Associated Press was used in this report.