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|WIU Head Football Coach Steps Down, Citing Health Concerns
|In his 11th season with the Western Illinois football program, head coach Don Patterson has announced he will step down from his head coaching role due to personal health concerns, Friday, Sept. 25th.
Patterson, who was diagnosed with tonsillar cancer last July, missed most of the 2008 preseason camp and the first seven games of the year as he underwent treatment for cancer.
"Battling cancer and its subsequent treatments have taken a huge toll on me physically," Patterson said. "Even though my last check-up revealed that I am cancer free, the lingering effects of radiation and chemotherapy have impacted me more than expected."
"Right now the most important thing is for our Leatherneck football team and coaching staff to focus on winning our game against Southern Illinois, and eventually a Missouri Valley Football Conference Championship this season. I didn't want them focusing on me," Patterson continued.
Patterson will continue to serve in an active role with the football program and the athletics department.
"Obviously this has been a very difficult revelation for the program," said Western Illinois director of athletics Dr. Tim Van Alstine. "Yet I am very supportive, as Don's long-term well-being is without a doubt the highest priority for our program, our department and for our community."
Assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Mark Hendrickson will take over as acting head coach, effective immediately. Hendrickson served as acting head coach for the first seven games of the 2008 season while Patterson was undergoing cancer treatments.
One of the Missouri Valley Football Conference's all-time winningest coaches, Patterson guided the Fighting Leathernecks to three playoff berths, a pair of conference titles and a No. 1 national ranking. He amassed an overall record of 63-47 and coached five of the top eight offensive teams in school history. In addition, Patterson coached eight conference players of the year.
(Submitted by Western Illinois University)