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Illinois baseball pitching coach taking leave of absence for health reasons

Mar. 22—CHAMPAIGN — Before the Illinois baseball team opens Big Ten play on Friday evening at Indiana, the team announced Friday morning pitching coach Mark Allen is taking a leave of absence because of health reasons.

In a statement, Allen said he was recently diagnosed with cancer.

He is in his fifth season as the Illini pitching coach, having joined Dan Hartleb's program in 2019.

"I will be taking a temporary leave from coaching to focus on my health," Allen said. "Earlier this month, I was diagnosed with cancer and have begun treatments that will keep me away from baseball. It will be extremely difficult to be away from the team right now, but it will be important to stay focused on my health. I will remain in communication with our coaching staff and pitchers as much as possible while away. Thank you to my wife Angela, my daughters Skylar and Avery, Coach Hartleb, and our entire staff for their support."

Illinois is 8-11 this season before beginning its three-game road series with the Hoosiers (11-10) at 5 p.m. Friday in Bloomington, Ind.

Allen's daughter, Avery, won The News-Gazette's All-Area volleyball Player of the Year honors each of the last two seasons for her standout career at Mahomet-Seymour. She is set to play beach volleyball at Boise State next school year, and the couple's other daughter, Skylar, was a two-time beach volleyball All-American in 2021 and 2023 at South Carolina.

"Our thoughts are with Coach Allen and his family," Hartleb said. "We are committed to doing everything we can to help Mark get through this tough time and getting him back in the dugout as soon as possible."