NEW YORK — Steve Lavin, who revived St. John’s basketball in his first season with the Red Storm, has prostate cancer but his doctor expects him to keep coaching and make a complete recovery.
The 46-year-old Lavin said in a statement Friday he was diagnosed in September and was told he could delay treatment until after the season. He will begin treatment in the coming weeks. The statement did not say how he will treated.
“My family feels fortunate that through annual health exams, we detected my condition at an early stage,” Lavin said. “This past fall I didn’t want to distract our team, but with the season behind us, we are now working with medical experts and taking the proper steps to tackle this health challenge head on.”
He is under the care of Dr. Jonathan Schiff, a New York urologist. Schiff described Lavin’s condition as a “relatively low-grade cancer,” with treatment to proceed “shortly.”
“I expect a complete cure of Coach Lavin’s condition and we anticipate a seamless continuation of his coaching duties,” Schiff said.
The Red Storm went 21-12 and tied for third in the Big East this season. They made the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2002, losing to Gonzaga in the second round.
Lavin inherited a roster with 10 seniors. After a rough start, St. John’s won eight of nine with four of the wins over ranked teams. The Red Storm lost three of five to end the season.
Lavin was hired at St. John’s in April after seven years as an ESPN analyst. He coached at UCLA from 1996 to 2003 and was fired after leading the Bruins to a 145-78 record that included six NCAA tournament berths.
Lavin received support Friday from two Big East coaches who had prostate cancer — Jim Calhoun of Connecticut and Jim Boeheim of Syracuse — and went on win NCAA championships.
“All of us as men can get it,” Calhoun told The Associated Press. “I am happy for him that they caught it early. The cure rate then can be 100 percent.”
Calhoun, who won his third national title Monday night, was diagnosed in 2003.
“I underwent surgery; he may not,” Calhoun said. “But after the surgery I was back coaching in 12 days.”
Lavin has been involved with both Coaches vs. Cancer and The V Foundation for Cancer Research. Boeheim said he spoke with Lavin at the Coaches vs. Cancer luncheon at the Final Four.
“He seemed to be on top of it and it was caught early,” said Boeheim, who was diagnosed in 2001. “We talked about a number of things. I think he’s in real good position to handle this.”
Boeheim said the treatment should not keep Lavin from his coaching responsibilities.
“Once he starts whatever he decides as a treatment he should be done with it within a short period of time,” he said.
St. John’s athletic director Chris Monasch said the school’s first priority will be to support Lavin and his wife.
“We are encouraged by the early diagnosis and expect that Steve will continue his regular coaching activities,” Monasch said. “We do not anticipate any disruption in his duties as our head coach, and thank all in advance for their support of Steve and respect for his family’s privacy.”