Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery has a lot on his plate on Wednesday.
Not only do his Hawkeyes square off with Tennessee in the NCAA tournament in Dayton, Ohio, McCaffery’s 13-year old son Patrick will have surgery to remove a thyroid tumor just hours before tip off.
According to the Associated Press, McCaffery, who is in his fourth year at Iowa, flew to Dayton with his team on Monday, but will fly back to Iowa City for his son’s surgery on Wednesday morning. Then he'll try to get back to University of Dayton Arena before the game starts at 9:10 p.m. ET.
“My hope is … if I can, fly back for the surgery and then fly back for the game if I can work that out,” McCaffery said Sunday. “We’ll see, logistically, if we can pull all that together.”
This is the first time Iowa has reached the NCAA tournament in eight years and the first in McCaffery’s tenure. The Hawkeyes struggled down the stretch, losing six of their last seven games to land a spot in a play-in game – one of two games reserved for the final four teams to earn an at-large berth in the 68-team tournament.
McCaffery has led a huge turnaround for the Hawkeye program, so making the tournament is quite the accomplishment despite the team’s rough performance down the stretch. The condition of his son, however, has to take away from the pride in making it this far.
It won’t be known whether Patrick’s tumor is benign or malignant until further testing is done, and according to the AP, McCaffery admitted to being “overcome with emotion more than once,” especially when his players told him they’d be wearing “P-Mac” t-shirts.
The Hawkeyes face a tough task against Tennessee, but a successful surgery for his son should take some of the weight off of McCaffery’s shoulders Wednesday night.
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