|Calhoun has stepped aside from his coaching duty many times in the past decade. (Getty Images)|
UPDATE, 7:49 p.m.: Calhoun spoke over the phone to the Associated Press Friday night. Some of his quotes have been added to this article.
Jim Calhoun is temporarily and indefinitely taking another leave of absence as head coach of UConn, the school announced Friday afternoon. Calhoun's leave is medically related, as he's dealing with a "worsening" condition of "spinal stenosis, a lower back condition that causes him severe pain and hampers mobility."
That means Calhoun is out for Saturday's game against Seton Hall and will also definitively not coach in Monday's game at Louisville. George Blaney, associate head coach, will step in again as he's done many times before during previous hiatuses Calhoun has taken from the team.
The team's press release quotes Calhoun's doctor, Peter Schulman, saying this has been an ongoing issue for Calhoun for the past few months.
“Last summer, Jim had some significant back pain and has seen two excellent back specialists,” Schulman said in the release. “The initial approach recommended to him was stretching, physical therapy and exercise, and that was successful for several months. It turns out that there is some degenerative problem in the lumbar vertebrae and it’s impinging on the nerves. It has led to significant back pain and some symptoms in his lower extremities. Jim has been able to manage it with the physical therapy and stretching, but over the last several days, things have become worse and he is not able to deal with this on a day to day basis, so other options need to be considered. Right now, he is physically unable to coach.”
Calhoun told the AP Friday night he "couldn't even get up" after plane rides and that the pain had become more and more brutal. He was unable to get out of bed Friday morning, and that's when the decision apparently became final: he was missing the next immediate stretch of games."But it's just so bad, even getting through practice," Calhoun said. "Now I'm going to see what the next step is. The bottom line is I'm hurting. ... I had back pain like never before last summer, thought it was back spasms. I saw a neurologist and he told me about scoliosis, stenosis and other things and that there could be things like a bone spur and that I could probably need something done at some point. I went for the physical therapy and it worked, but it started to lock up sometimes recently and it was worse."
Calhoun will turn 70 in May.