Hoosier coach Hoeppner afflicted with 2nd tumor in less than a year

By The Associated Press

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana coach Terry Hoeppner was scheduled to have surgery Wednesday for a possible tumor and might miss the next four weeks of the season according to school officials.

Assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Bill Lynch will take over as interim coach in Hoeppner’s absence.

It’s the second time in 9 1/2 months that Hoeppner has needed surgery for a tumor. Surgeons removed one from the 59-year-old’s right temple in December.

An MRI showed evidence of a possible recurrent tumor, neurosurgeon Marshall Poor said Tuesday in a written statement. Surgery was planned, and Poor said he expects Hoeppner to return in two to four weeks.

A news conference was scheduled for 6:30 p.m. with Hoeppner, Lynch, athletic director Rick Greenspan and the team’s four elected captains.

Hoeppner’s weekly news conference went on as usual Tuesday, and there was no mention that the second-year coach would be leaving the team imminently.

Hoeppner has said several times this season that he felt good, and in June, acknowledged he was having regular checkups.

“I feel fantastic, I have no restrictions, no limits, I do have periodic checkups, but that’s it,” he said then.

He also took on a new charitable mission by making Jill’s House one of his primary projects. Jill’s House is a Bloomington-based organization that supplies housing accommodations for cancer patients and their families.

Hoeppner’s health problems began late last year, after he endured his first losing season as a head coach. While on a trip to Cleveland to watch his prized pupil, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Hoeppner began having headaches. Hoeppner coached Roethlisberger at Miami of Ohio.

After returning to the job on Dec. 26, Hoeppner underwent tests and had surgery the next day, spending most of the recruiting season recovering at home.

Hoeppner, always the optimist, tried to find a silver lining in the announcement.

“I said it’s the best thing that ever happened to me simply because I was trying to go 24-7 and was always making excuses about other things,” he said in June. “The things that were important to me before are more important to me. I think I always had my priorities straight, but sometimes I fudged on them.”

For Hoeppner, it has been a personally difficult year.

Besides his own health concerns, Roethlisberger was nearly killed in a motorcycle accident in June and recently had an appendectomy. Hoeppner’s mentor, former Franklin College coach Stewart Ray “Red” Faught, died last September at age 81.

And in July, Hoeppner’s friend and predecessor at Miami, Randy Walker then with Northwestern, died of a heart attack at age 52.

The Hoosiers’ were 4-7 in Hoeppner’s first season and are off to a 2-0 for the third straight year. It’s the first time Indiana has opened three straight seasons with back-to-back wins in 100 years.

He is 54-32 in seven-plus seasons as a head coach.

Lynch has an overall record of 81-67-3 in 14 seasons as a head coach, including eight years at Ball State. Lynch was fired after the 2002 season, coached another Indiana school, DePauw, in 2004 and was hired to the Hoosiers staff in 2005.