Jeff Hathaway spoke Wednesday before the Huskies (12-6, 3-3 Big East) beat St. John’s 75-59, one day after Calhoun took an indefinite medical leave of absence.
The athletic director would not say what is ailing the 67-year-old Hall of Famer, but said it has nothing to do with his previous bouts with cancer and is not related to his heart.
Calhoun had prostate cancer in 2003 and skin cancer twice, most recently in 2008.
Hathaway said the decision on when Calhoun will return will be made by the coach and Dr. Peter Schulman, his primary-care physician.
“Until then, George (Blaney) will coach the team,” Hathaway said. “We’ll put no artificial deadlines on anything.”
Blaney coached for 22 years at Holy Cross and had head coaching jobs at Seton Hall, Dartmouth and Stonehill. He is in his ninth year as Calhoun’s top assistant, and has taken over coaching duties before, and is 5-3 in starts for UConn.
Blaney said he plans to take this stint in on a day-to-day basis.
“I appreciate everybody telling me how good I am and all that kind of stuff,” he said. “But, the guy’s a Hall of Fame head coach, and it’s his team. I want him back as soon as possible.”
UConn fell out of the Top 25 this week after losing three straight games. The Huskies host top-ranked Texas on Saturday.
Blaney said Calhoun called him after he left his doctor’s appointment Tuesday, and did not indicate that stress or the team’s recent losing streak had anything to do with his health problems.
“He said he knew the doctor was serious and he knew he had to listen,” Blaney said. “He said, ’I’m listening this time.”’
This is the 22nd time Calhoun has missed a game or left one early because of health concerns.
Calhoun has won two national championships at Connecticut and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005. He guided the Huskies to the Final Four last season, but missed their first NCAA tournament game in March after being hospitalized for dehydration.
Last June, he was hospitalized after breaking several ribs during a charity bike ride.
Several other off-the-court issues had prompted questions about Calhoun’s future, including an investigation into the school’s recruitment of former player Nate Miles. Calhoun has acknowledged that he or his staff might have made mistakes in recruiting Miles.
It is not clear when that investigation will be completed.
Last month, Calhoun said a new multiyear contract with UConn was “just on the horizon.” He is making $1.6 million in the final year of a six-year deal.
Hathaway would not address whether Calhoun’s ailment would affect those negotiations.
“The people that cover this beat know, when we have contracts signed, we release them,” he said.