Duke’s Krzyzewski Won’t Be Back This Season : College basketball: His recovery from back surgery will leave struggling team in hands of interim coach Gaudet.
Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, recovering from back surgery and exhaustion, will not coach again this season.
Athletic Director Tom Butters said Sunday the 47-year-old coach, who has led the Blue Devils to seven Final Fours and two national championships, will return for the 1995-96 season.
For now, Krzyzewski is to continue his rehabilitation without contact with the basketball team, a program he has molded into a perennial title contender but is mired in its longest losing streak in 56 years.
“We’ll talk with him, and we’ll want updates on how his health is and how he’s feeling,” interim coach Pete Gaudet said during Krzyzewski’s radio show on Sunday night. “I would even hope that in a conversation if there’s something that he saw about our team, he would give it to us. Basically, it’s going to be a hands-off approach.”
Physicians, university officials and Krzyzewski agreed that to rush back to basketball would not be in the best interests of the coach or the school.
Dr. John Feagin, head of Krzyzewski’s team of physicians, indicated the 15-year Duke coach has made good progress with his rehabilitation, which includes daily walks, physical therapy and rest.
Krzyzewski underwent back surgery Oct. 22 for a displaced disk and returned to work in about two weeks. A typical recovery period from such surgery is six to 12 weeks.
“Unfortunately, with the demands of coaching and his inner drive to succeed, he did not allow his body to return to normal,” Feagin said.
Two days after the Blue Devils lost their Atlantic Coast Conference opener to Clemson, Krzyzewski complained of exhaustion and was admitted to Duke University Hospital on Jan. 6.
On Jan. 10, Krzyzewski was released from the hospital and the school said he would not return to coaching for several weeks.
When Krzyzewski left, the Blue Devils were 9-3. The team, now coached by Gaudet, has lost six games in a row, with Gaudet having coached five of those losses.
Feagin said he had no doubt Krzyzewski would return next season in full health.
Krzyzewski, Duke’s all-time winningest coach, met with the players and coaching staff for about 20 minutes Sunday afternoon to inform them of the decision.