The Collegian
Saturday, March 25, 2023

Heart surgery forces Mooney away from men’s basketball team

<p>Chris Mooney at the Robins Center on June 16, 2022.&nbsp;</p>

Chris Mooney at the Robins Center on June 16, 2022. 

The University of Richmond men’s basketball head coach, Chris Mooney, will take a leave of absence from the team as he will undergo heart surgery next week, the Athletics Department announced on Feb. 17.

Mooney has an aneurysm in his ascending aorta that was discovered during a routine heart scan, he said in a press conference. According to the Athletics Department, Mooney is expected to endure a four to the eight-week recovery period. 

This will leave the Spiders without their usual head coach for the remainder of the 2022-2023 season. 

Mooney sees this as an opportunity to demonstrate many of the qualities the basketball program tries to instill in its players, he said. 

“I hope that I can demonstrate to them that while I’m very nervous and a little scared, that I can meet this head-on, be a great patient and show courage with the tremendous support that I have from Lia, Danny, and Ryan, my friends, my extended family, my coaching staff and my players,” he said.

The Athletics Department posted a message on its Twitter, expressing their support for Mooney.

“All of Spider Athletics is committed to supporting Coach and his whole family during his recovery,” the tweet said.

Bernadette McGlade, the commissioner of the Atlantic 10 Conference, also sent a message to Mooney through the conference’s Twitter account. 

“From all of the A-10 family — Sending positive support to Coach Mooney — Stay strong, we look forward to seeing you back on the sideline soon!” the tweet said. 

UR assistant coach Peter Thomas, who played basketball at UR from 2003-2007 and served as director of basketball operations from 2008-2013, will assume the interim head coach position during Mooney’s absence. 

“[Thomas] has the most years of service at Richmond,” Mooney said. “I think that he, having been a player here with us and how he earned a scholarship here, he’s been a tremendous coach and I have full trust in him as I do the entire staff and I think Peter will do a great job.”

Mooney has been UR’s head coach since the 2005-2006 season. UR’s upcoming game against Saint Louis University on Feb. 21 will be the first game Mooney has missed in his 18 years with the Spiders. 

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“I don’t think I’ve ever missed a practice,” Mooney said. “If I’ve been out recruiting, we’ve usually made those workouts, so no, never.”

In his tenure with the program, Mooney has the most wins in UR history, has taken the Spiders to three NCAA tournaments, and has won two A-10 Championships. Just last season, the Spiders defeated Davidson College to win the A-10 Championship and defeated Iowa University in the first round of the NCAA tournament. 

On June 16, 2022, Mooney signed a contract extension with the Spiders, making him head coach through the 2026-2027 season. 

With four games left in the regular season, UR currently sits at eleventh in the A-10 Conference with a 13-14 overall record and a 6-8 conference record. The A-10 Tournament is scheduled to take place from Mar. 7 to Mar. 12. 

Once the surgery is completed and the recovery period ceases, Mooney believes he will be able to fulfill his head coaching duties, he said. 

“Once recovered, I don’t feel like there’ll be any limits on what I’m able to do,” Mooney said. 

Contact sports editor Jimmy James

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