Mark Dantonio

September 19, 2010 by staff 

Mark Dantonio, Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio had a minor heart attack and was hospitalized yesterday morning, shortly after calling a fake field audacious goal to beat Notre Dame in overtime.

The 54-year old Dantonio had surgery to put a stent in a blocked blood vessel leading to the heart. Is expected to remain in the hospital a few days, and offensive coordinator Don Treadwell will lead the team during the indefinite absence of Dantonio.

“This morning, in the early hours, not long after the football game, the coach Dantonio started to experience some symptoms,” said Dr. Chris D’Haem, who made the relatively common procedure to restore blood flow. “Fortunately, the heart damage is very minimal. He’ll do very well and we are very optimistic that there will be a full recovery.”

The Spartans defeated Notre Dame 34-31 in a match that ended just before midnight Saturday night. After Michigan State in a row with a field goal from 46 yards that could have forced a second extension, the holder Aaron Bates threw a pass to Charlie Gantt for a winning touchdown.

Dantonio said D’heme began experiencing symptoms of a heart problem around 12:30 am, including a feeling of tightness in the chest.

“Fortunately, he got into a very timely manner,” said D’heme.

The victory was one of the signature moments of the college football season young, and put it in the State of Michigan survey partners at this week’s Press Release No. 25.

“This is a time for Sparta to join the Nation, to bring together not only the coach Dantonio and his family, but everything we’re doing here,” athletic director Mark Hollis said during a news conference. “We know that the coach will return to the bank very soon.”

Dantonio is certainly not the first high-profile coach to experience health problems.

Florida coach Urban Meyer was hospitalized with chest pains in December after the Gators lost the championship game of the Southeastern Conference Alabama. A couple of weeks later, Meyer resigned citing health reasons, but later than 24 hours, he took back his resignation.

Meyer was diagnosed with esophageal spasms and has taken the medication.

Notre Dame staff was also affected by health problems recently, when the defensive line coach and special teams coordinator Mike Elston was hospitalized for a viral illness. Ireland coach Brian Kelly Dantonio shook hands after the game at midfield and began his press conference on Sunday and wish Dantonio.

“On behalf of the Notre Dame family are in thoughts and prayers for Coach Dantonio and wish him a speedy recovery. Look forward to seeing him again on the bench,” said Kelly. “We did not come in until about a quarter of four in the morning. I went home immediately. When I came to the office of Brian Hardin, our sports information director, told me the news.”

Michigan coach Rico Rodriguez also released a statement.

“The Michigan football program sends our thoughts and prayers to Coach Dantonio and his family,” Rodriguez said. “We hope for a speedy and complete recovery.”

Said D’heme Genetics may play a role in heart problems, but noted that Dantonio kept in good conditions and monitoring factors such as cholesterol that can lead to health problems.

“Anyone who knows Dantonio remains coach knows that very fit,” said the doctor.

When Dantonio arrived at the hospital, “was his immediate concern to her family and the football program,” said Hollis.

Dantonio is in his fourth season at Michigan State with a 25-17 record and three bowl appearances. But the victory on Saturday night might have been his most memorable, due to the opponent and the direct role it played in the outcome.

“As we have said from the beginning, we had to play a major boost. Just did not know when he would come,” Dantonio said after the game. “I really do not know where to begin or end, but it was a great night for the Spartans.”

Treadwell is in his seventh season on the staff of the State of Michigan. He coached receivers 2000-02 and was the offensive coordinator since 2007, when Dantonio arrived in East Lansing after a successful three years in Cincinnati.

“There’s some great transfer that is already in place, and we will only fill the gaps, like you,” said Treadwell. “We look forward to a very speedy recovery Mark.”

The Spartans host Northern Colorado on Saturday.

“They are managing as best you can. They love their coach,” said Treadwell’s team, who heard the news on Sunday. “It’s our job as assistant coaches just to keep moving forward, to keep focused on the task.”

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