Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson taking leave of absence to be with his wife during cancer battle

Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson is taking an indefinite leave of absence from the Red Wolves to be with his wife, the school announced Monday. Anderson’s wife, Wendy, has been fighting breast cancer.

“Coach Anderson has decided to take a leave of absence during this difficult time to be with his wife, Wendy, and his family,” athletic director Terry Mohajir said in a statement. “We will continue to pray for peace for his family and provide assistance any way we can.”

Wendy Anderson was diagnosed with triple-negative stage four breast cancer in 2017, and has gone through multiple treatments to address the disease. The family announced in March that the cancer has spread to her liver, lungs and lymph nodes. Anderson addressed his wife’s health at Sun Belt Media Days in July.

“I fully expected we’d be standing before you today telling you, man, we beat cancer,” he said. “I would love to be telling you that. It’s just not where God has got us right now. Just limited details, I would tell you that it has been a tough summer. It’s been a long, hard summer, but she’s one of the toughest fighters I’ve ever met. We are still knee-deep in the battle, and I would just tell you the prayers are needed more now than ever before. But we just continue to fight every day, and even my players have been inspired by just her willingness to fight and not make excuses and just battle every day. So I appreciate you asking and appreciate the thoughts and prayers, and please just continue, if you can.”

Mohajir addressed the support the Anderson family has been receiving.

“I know there has been an outpouring of support for Coach Anderson, Wendy and their family, not only locally, but nationally,” he said. “Coach Anderson has expressed how grateful his family is for all the thoughts and prayers, and we are also thankful for everyone’s support.”

Defensive coordinator David Duggan will serve as interim head coach until Anderson returns to the program. Duggan is entering his first season running the Red Wolves defense, spending the previous three seasons as the linebackers coach at Western Michigan.

“I have 100 percent confidence in Coach Duggan, our football coaching staff and student leadership on this team to move us forward with our academics and competition,” Mohajir said.

Arkansas State will host SMU on Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. to open the 2019 season.

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