Indiana AD tells paper he hoped ailing Hoeppner would be back by now

Updated: June 5, 2007, 9:52 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Indiana athletic director Rick Greenspan said Monday that he had hoped ailing football coach Terry Hoeppner would be back to work by now and he's getting worried about his ability to return to the job.

Terry Hoeppner
Michael Hickey/WireImage.comHoeppner is 9-14 in his two seasons at Indiana but brain surgeries have kept him away from the team.

"The bottom line right now is that Hep is not back at work," Greenspan told the Indianapolis Star for Tuesday's editions. "He has been out for a couple of months. Obviously we're concerned, and the longer he is out, the more concerned we get about his return or his ability to return."

Hoeppner had brain surgery twice in a 10-month span and has now left the team three times since December 2005. Assistant head coach Bill Lynch ran the team during the spring and Hoeppner also didn't attend Indiana's annual crimson-and-cream game on April 14.

"We've said this and we'll continue to say it, we're not standing still. We had what I thought was a good, strong, solid and healthy spring football season," Greenspan told the newspaper.

"We had a really good semester academically. We've got a lot of kids on campus either at summer school, or working or whatever, getting stronger. So, we're certainly by no means on a treadmill, but Terry has been both a face and a leader of this team. And so, in terms of his personal visibility and what that means to us, yeah, we'd love to have him out there."

Indiana also has two football camps scheduled in mid-June.

The athletic department released a statement from Hoeppner in May, with the coach saying he hoped to return to the job.

"I continue to receive medical treatment and remain inspired to return to coaching when my health permits," Hoeppner said. "I love Indiana University and Indiana football and will make decisions in the best interest of the program, as I have always attempted to do."

The statement gave no details about Hoeppner's treatment, health or when he might rejoin the team.

Hoeppner's last major public appearance was in late February when he spoke during an NCAA luncheon in Indianapolis. He also attended a news conference earlier that month to announce Indiana's newest recruits, although the assistant coaches answered most of the questions and provided most of the details.

Hoeppner left Miami of Ohio in December 2004 to return to Indiana, his home state, and take over a Hoosiers program that last went to a bowl game in 1993.

A year later, he had a tumor removed from his right temple and last September he had a second operation on the right side of his head. He then left the Hoosiers for two weeks but watched both games from the press box before rejoining the team. Hoeppner later implied follow-up tests showed no recurrence of the tumor, but that doctors had removed only scar tissue.

Hoeppner is 9-14 in his two seasons at Indiana, and he has restored enthusiasm in the program by reaching out to students and fans. In December, Hoeppner signed a two-year contract extension that would keep him in Bloomington through June 2012.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.