Former SLU coach Spoonhour awaiting lung transplant -

Former SLU coach Spoonhour awaiting lung transplant

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) -- Charlie Spoonhour, the popular basketball coach known for his homespun humor and success on the court, is on the waiting list for a lung transplant at Duke Medical Center.

Spoonhour's son, Jay Spoonhour, told the Springfield News-Leader on Tuesday that his 71-year-old father began coughing and feeling ill about a month ago. Doctors at Duke diagnosed him with a lung disease called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which requires a transplant.

Spoonhour will remain in Durham, N.C., until a match is found and the transplant is completed.

"Duke Medical is the No. 1 medical facility in the world for lungs," Jay Spoonhour said. "He's in good spirits for the situation he's in."

Charlie Spoonhour was hired at Missouri State, then known as Southwest Missouri State, in 1982. He had a 197-81 record in nine seasons and led the Bears to five NCAA Tournament appearances and two National Invitational Tournament berths.

He left following the 1991-92 season and went to Saint Louis University. The Billikens were 122-90 in seven seasons under Spoonhour, who became a popular figure in St. Louis. Spoonhour led Saint Louis to three NCAA Tournament appearances and to one NIT appearance, and the Billikens for several years were among the top teams in the country in attendance at home games.

Spoonhour retired briefly then returned to coaching at UNLV, where he was 54-31 in three seasons, including two NIT appearances. He retired following the 2003-04 season. He and his wife, Vicki, have lived in Las Vegas in recent years.

Spoonhour is a television analyst for St. Louis-based Missouri Valley Conference games. The conference includes Missouri State.

The National Institutes for Health defines idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis as a condition in which the lung tissue becomes thickened, stiff, and scarred. Eventually, the lungs lose the ability to transfer oxygen into the bloodstream. In most cases, there is no known cause.

The disease affects about 200,000 Americans, and about 40,000 die from it each year, according to the website for the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation.

Retired Missouri State athletic director Bill Rowe, who hired Spoonhour, said the coach has a lot of people in his corner.

"All the years he's won ballgames or made people laugh with his storytelling or whatever ... he's finding out how much people genuinely care about him now," Rowe said.

click here for updates on Charlie's condition

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