June 22, 2024

Kansas analyst Matt Lubick, a longtime college football assistant coach, has been diagnosed with leukemia, he told ESPN this week.

Lubick checked into a hospital in the Denver area earlier this week, and the staff of cancer specialists has begun testing to determine the best course of treatment. He is being treated by the cancer specialists at the Anschutz Center for Advanced Medicine, which is part of the University of Colorado Cancer Center in Aurora.

“The texts and support mean more than you can know,” said Lubick, who spoke with emotion about hearing from former colleagues and players. “It’s been spiritually uplifting and energized me. There’s a purpose to this and I’ve gotten some meaning through the suffering. It’s humbling to know you’ve impacted people’s lives.”

Lubick’s role as an analyst is a remote one, and he has continued to break down opposing defenses and meet via Zoom with the Kansas staff. On Tuesday, for example, he Zoomed with the Kansas offensive staff from the hospital and gave his third-down thoughts after analyzing Oklahoma State, Kansas’ opponent this week.

“That was rewarding,” he said. “You don’t have to work during this stuff. I do it for therapy. The Kansas staff being so loving and caring and supportive has given me strength and given me purpose. It’s been therapeutic for me to keep mind off stuff.”

Lubick credited coach Lance Leipold, offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki and the Kansas staff for their support, and said he appreciates the opportunity to work during his treatment.

“Matt has made great contributions to our offensive success in this analyst role, and that’s helped this program in ways that many people haven’t seen,” Leipold said. “His courage, faith and passion to want to contribute to this program while he’s battling this has really been remarkable. Our prayers are with him.”

Lubick got hired by Kansas in July 2022, and his job has primarily been away from campus. He went to Lawrence this summer for camp.

Lubick ran the Boston Marathon in April and after a 16-mile run in late August didn’t feel well and went to the doctor, in part because he didn’t want to lose any days of training. He soon found out his white blood cell count was so low that when he returned home he wasn’t allowed to be around people because of the risk.

That led to further tests and the eventual diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia. The official diagnosis came last week and Lubick said he moved into the hospital in the Denver area Sunday.

Lubick had already spoken to former Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano, who shared his own journey in battling leukemia, which he was diagnosed with in 2012 and has since raised money and awareness to fight cancer. Lubick said conversations such as that one helped him prepare for the diagnosis.

“I was crushed, but I knew what to do and I was prepared,” he said. “I’m grateful for the profession. You have to be prepared and deal with adversity. Life challenges are opportunities to grow. That’s what I’ve been telling my players for the last 20 years, and now I have to live my advice.”

Lubick is a former offensive coordinator and assistant coach, most recently at Nebraska, Washington and Oregon.

He has also coached at Duke, Arizona State, Ole Miss, Oregon State, San Jose State, Cal State Northridge and Colorado State. He started his career as a student assistant at Colorado State, where his father, Sonny Lubick, was head coach from 1993 through 2007.

Along that path he has touched thousands of players and staff members, and he said he spends an hour or two each night returning messages from everyone.

“It shows how important friends and family and relationships are in a tough times, it’s really hard to put into words,” he said. “When someone tells me how much they love me, I get a little bit emotional. One of the things about coaching, it’s a relationship business. Rekindling those and knowing how meaningful they are. That’s been huge.”

Lubick said he hopes to raise cancer awareness and help others by speaking about his battle with leukemia.

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