Steve Lavin takes on prostate cancer

Updated: April 8, 2011, 5:19 PM ET
By Kieran Darcy | ESPNNewYork.com

St. John's men's basketball coach Steve Lavin has been diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer, the school announced Friday.

Lavin actually received the diagnosis last fall, but will proceed with treatment in the coming weeks.

"My family feels fortunate that through annual health exams, we detected my condition at an early stage," the 46-year-old Lavin said in a statement released by the school. "This past fall I didn't want to distract our team, but with the season behind us, we are now working with medical experts and taking the proper steps to tackle this health challenge head on."

Lavin turned around St. John's basketball in his first season. The Red Storm went 21-12 and tied for third in the Big East. They made the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2002, losing to Gonzaga in the second round.

Lavin inherited a roster with 10 seniors. After a rough start, St. John's won eight of nine, with four of the wins against ranked teams.

The former UCLA coach was hired by St. John's in April 2010 after seven years as a college basketball analyst for ESPN.

"We are pleased that through early detection we determined Coach Lavin's condition as a relatively low-grade cancer, and one that could wait for treatment until the conclusion of the basketball season," said Jonathan Schiff, a board-certified urologist in private practice in New York City. "We have spoken to Steve and his family about his options, and will proceed with a course of treatment shortly.

"I expect a complete cure of Coach Lavin's condition and we anticipate a seamless continuation of his coaching duties."

Lavin received support Friday from two Big East coaches who had prostate cancer -- Jim Calhoun of Connecticut and Jim Boeheim of Syracuse -- and went on win NCAA championships.

"All of us as men can get it," Calhoun told The Associated Press. "I am happy for him that they caught it early. The cure rate then can be 100 percent."

Calhoun, who won his third national title Monday night, was diagnosed in 2003.

"I underwent surgery; he may not," Calhoun said. "But after the surgery I was back coaching in 12 days."

Lavin has been involved with both Coaches vs. Cancer and The V Foundation for Cancer Research. Boeheim said he spoke with Lavin at the Coaches vs. Cancer luncheon at the Final Four.

"He seemed to be on top of it and it was caught early," said Boeheim, who was diagnosed in 2001. "We talked about a number of things. I think he's in real good position to handle this."

Boeheim said the treatment should not keep Lavin from his coaching responsibilities.

"Once he starts whatever he decides as a treatment he should be done with it within a short period of time," he said.

St. John's athletic director Chris Monasch said: "Our first priority is to support Steve and [his wife] Mary as they take on this challenge. We are encouraged by the early diagnosis and expect that Steve will continue his regular coaching activities. We do not anticipate any disruption in his duties as our head coach, and thank all in advance for their support of Steve and respect for his family's privacy."

Kieran Darcy covers college sports for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
Follow Kieran on Twitter »

SPONSORED HEADLINES

EDITORS' PICKS

MORE MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL HEADLINES