RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Richmond coach Chris Mooney said Friday he is stepping away from the Spiders for the remainder of the season to undergo heart surgery.
Mooney, 50, said the procedure will be performed next week at the University of Virginia Medical Center to remove an aneurysm in his ascending aorta. Recovery is expected to take four to eight weeks.
A problem was first detected during a routine physical about a month ago, Mooney said at a news conference, and doctors were able to pinpoint the aneurysm during subsequent testing.
Assistant coach Peter Thomas will guide the Spiders for the rest of the season, and Mooney said he’s confident Thomas “will do a great job.”
Mooney admitted to being “very nervous and a little scared,” but added, “I hope that this will be something that I can recover well from and I do turn my focus to that right now.”
He told his team early Friday afternoon and described them as being “shocked,” but said they would all have dinner together later in the day so he can answer any questions and possibly ease their concern.
Mooney is in his 18th season as coach of the Spiders, during which time he became their career victories leader with a 367-297 record.
He signed a three-year extension in June after guiding the Spiders to four straight victories in the Atlantic-10 Tournament — the last three against the top three seeds in succession — and an upset over Big Ten champion Iowa in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Spiders (13-14) were picked to finish seventh in the conference this season when they had to replace three of their top four scorers and brought in four freshmen and three unheralded transfers.
They have four regular season games remaining.
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