The Dagger - NCAAB

The undisclosed ailment that forced Billy Kennedy to take a leave of absence this month has turned out to be more serious than anyone hoped.

Texas A&M announced Thursday evening that Kennedy has been diagnosed with an early stage of Parkinson's disease, a brain disorder that can cause tremors and difficulty with walking, movement, and coordination. Kennedy said in a statement that he's hopeful doctors can help him manage the disease and his intention is "to return to the court as soon as it is prudent."

"At this time, I am heeding the advice of my doctors and addressing the disease and its symptoms," Kennedy said. "We have begun a long-term treatment plan and recovery. My doctors are encouraged and are telling me I will be able to come back soon."

Kennedy took a leave of absence before the start of practice two weeks ago when the pain he had been experiencing in his neck and shoulder for several months became too much for him to bear. The combination of that and his intense schedule had pushed him to the brink of exhaustion, so his doctors suggested he take time off to determine the cause of his discomfort.

The tumult atop the program is certainly a distraction for a Texas A&M team expected to return to the NCAA tournament and contend for a Big 12 championship. Well-respected veteran assistant Glynn Cyprien, a former assistant at Memphis, Kentucky, Arkansas and Oklahoma State, will continue to serve as head coach in Kennedy's absence.

Cyprien has no prior head coaching experience besides a brief stint at Louisiana-Lafayette that ended two months before the start of his debut season when it was revealed he lied on his resume and lacked the requisite degree to coach at the school. In 2004, he went back and finished his bachelor's degree at Texas-San Antonio.

Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne said in a statement that he has confidence in Cyprien, but he expects Kennedy back on the sideline sooner than later.

"I fully expect Billy to have a long and illustrious coaching career here in Aggieland when he is cleared to return to the court," Byrne said. "Meanwhile, I have confidence in the staff Billy has hired and in our basketball team. I'm anxious to get the season started and to get Billy back on the basketball court as well."

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