EMMITSBURG - Mount St. Mary's men's basketball coach Jim Phelan, the winningest active college coach in the country, announced yesterday that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Phelan, 71, has undergone a seeding procedure at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore and is being treated with direct-beam radiation. The cancer was caught at an early stage, and doctors say the prognosis for a complete recovery is excellent.
On the verge of a college-record 47th season as the Mountaineers' coach, Phelan does not plan to miss any games.
"At the present time, my health is excellent," he said. "I have not noticed any of the debilitating symptoms sometimes associated with radiation treatment. I am looking forward to the upcoming season."
When the team plays at Columbia on Nov. 25, Phelan will set the all-time record for college basketball games coached - 1,276. Only former Winston-Salem State coach Clarence "Big House" Gaines (1,275) has coached more games than Phelan.
With his team's win in the Northeast Conference championship game in 1999, Phelan became the fourth person to coach 800 college basketball victories. Currently, he has 809 victories.
Phelan has guided 16 Mount teams to NCAA tournaments, including five trips to the Division II Final Four and the College Division national championship in 1962. Eighteen of his teams have reached the 20-win plateau, and just nine have had losing records.
Phelan is the second coach at the school to announce he has cancer within the past week. Men's lacrosse coach Tom Gravante, 34, has non-Hodgkins lymphoma, which specialists at Johns Hopkins determined was malignant.