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Coaches unite behind Towson’s Skerry and Marshall’s Herrion for autism awareness

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Towson head coach Pat Skerry looks for a call during the second half Jan. 5 against the Drexel at the Daskalakis …

At least 82 college coaches, including some of the most notable names in college basketball, will join Towson coach Pat Skerry and Marshall coach Tom Herrion on Saturday in wearing Autism Speaks puzzle piece pins on the sidelines.

The effort organized by Skerry and Herrion is meant to raise awareness about autism. Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Kansas’ Bill Self, Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, Arizona’s Sean Miller, Louisville’s Rick Pitino, and Kentucky’s John Calipari are just some of the coaches who will participate.

Skerry and Herrion are personally touched by the disorder. Skerry's 4-year-old son, Owen, and Herrion's 8-year-old son, Robert, have been diagnosed with autism.

According to AutismSpeaks.org, one in 88 children has autism, including 1 in 54 boys.

“It’s our only child,” Herrion told Sports Illustrated this month. “It’s a hard thing to swallow when someone tells you your child has deficiencies or special needs. That’s hard. That hurts as a parent. Then our focus and our energy was totally channeled to giving him as much resources as we could to allow him to catch up or go his own speed. For us, as a family, he has made great strides.”

College basketball coaches have collaborated in the past to bring awareness to other disorders and diseases. Just last weekend, coaches around the nation wore sneakers with their suits on the sidelines in support of Coaches vs. Cancer week.

“It’s probably someone you know and a couple people you know that has someone in their family that has a child with it,” Skerry told SI. “And then more, whether it’s on the national or federal level, it’s getting help for people. It’s a cost. I’m fortunate. There’s a lot of other people that maybe aren’t. Hopefully with more money and research – you’re talking about our children here – how do you help them? How do you help them figure it out?”

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Kyle Ringo is the assistant editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at kyle.ringo@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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