Dantonio has heart attack

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Associated Press
September 20, 2010
— Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio had a mild heart attack and was hospitalized Sunday morning, shortly after calling an audacious fake field goal to beat Notre Dame in overtime.

The 54-year-old Dantonio had surgery to put a stent in a blocked blood vessel leading to the heart. He’s expected to remain in the hospital a few more days, and offensive coordinator Don Treadwell will lead the team during Dantonio’s indefinite absence.

“This morning, in the very early hours, not long after the football game, Coach Dantonio began experiencing some symptoms,” said Dr. Chris D’Haem, who performed the relatively common procedure to restore blood flow. “Fortunately, his heart damage is very minimal. He’s going to do very well, and we’re very optimistic he’ll have a full recovery.”

The Spartans defeated Notre Dame, 34-31, in a game that ended just before midnight on Saturday. After Michigan State lined up for a 46-yard field goal that could have forced a second overtime, holder Aaron Bates threw a pass to Charlie Gantt for the winning touchdown.

D’Haem said Dantonio began experiencing symptoms of a heart problem around 12:30 a.m., including a squeezing sensation in his chest.

“Fortunately, he got in in a very timely fashion,” D’Haem said.

The victory was among the signature moments of the young college football season, and it put Michigan State in this week’s Associated Press poll at No. 25.

“This is a time for the Spartan Nation to come together, to rally, not only to Coach Dantonio and his family but in everything that we’re doing here,” athletic director Mark Hollis said during a news conference. “We know coach will return to the sidelines very soon.”

Dantonio isn’t the first high-profile coach to experience health problems.

Florida coach Urban Meyer was hospitalized with chest pains last December after his Gators lost the Southeastern Conference championship game to Alabama. A couple weeks later, Meyer resigned citing health concerns, but less than 24 hours later, he took back his resignation. Meyer was diagnosed with esophageal spasms and has taken medication.

Notre Dame’s staff was also hit by health problems recently when defensive line coach and special teams coordinator Mike Elston was hospitalized for a viral illness. Irish coach Brian Kelly began his news conference Sunday by wishing Dantonio well.

“On behalf of the Notre Dame family we are in thoughts and prayers for Coach Dantonio and wish him a speedy recovery. Look forward to seeing him back on the sidelines,” Kelly said.

D’Haem said heredity can play a part in heart problems, but noted that Dantonio kept in good shape and tracked factors such as cholesterol that can lead to health issues.

“Anybody that knows Coach Dantonio knows he keeps pretty fit,” the doctor said.

Dantonio is in his fourth season at Michigan State, with a record of 25-17 and three bowl appearances. But the victory on Saturday night might have been his most memorable, because of the opponent and the direct role he played in the outcome.

“Like we said all along, we needed one big momentum play. We just didn’t know when it would come,” Dantonio said after the game.

Treadwell is in his seventh season on the Michigan State staff. He coached receivers from 2000-02 and has been the offensive coordinator since 2007, when Dantonio arrived in East Lansing after a successful three years at Cincinnati.

The Spartans host Northern Colorado Saturday.

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