Coach has viral infection; full recovery expected

Updated: October 6, 2004, 11:12 AM ET
Associated Press

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- New Mexico State basketball coach Lou Henson has been in the hospital for six days after coming down with what his wife described as a viral infection.

The 72-year-old Henson, who has 775 victories in 41 seasons of Division I coaching, was admitted to the hospital Sept. 28.

School spokesman Sean Johnson said Monday he could not release Henson's condition for privacy reasons. The university, however, said he was expected to make a full recovery and hoped to be back on the bench in time for the start of the season.

Assistant head coach Tony Stubblefield said Monday evening he had visited Henson and that he was doing well. Stubblefield has been appointed interim head coach until Henson returns.

"This is Coach Henson's program. This is Coach Henson's team," Stubblefield said. "I'll do whatever Coach Henson wants me to do. I'll do whatever I can until he gets better."

The team had a meeting Monday afternoon.

"They're all behind Coach," Johnson said of the players.

"They know what a positive person he is and that it was that positive attitude that helped him beat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma."

The athletics department said Henson's current condition is not related to the lymphoma form of cancer he was diagnosed with in the summer of 2003.

Asked if the viral infection came on suddenly, Stubblefield said: "It was a situation where he just wasn't feeling well."

While the team wasn't sure when Henson would return, Stubblefield said the players will continue concentrating on academics and individual workouts in preparation for the upcoming season.

The Aggies begin practice Oct. 16, and their first exhibition game is Nov. 2.

Henson has 19 NCAA Tournament appearances and he has taken two teams to the Final Four -- New Mexico State in 1970 and Illinois in 1989.

Last season, the Aggies finished 13-14 and Henson moved to seventh on the coaching career list. During the 2002-03 season, the Aggies were 20-9 and won nine of their last 12 games.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press