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Mark Dantonio Update - Sept. 19 Press Conference Transcript

Sept. 19, 2010


Below is the complete transcript of Sunday afternoon's (Sept. 19) press conference regarding Michigan State head football coach Mark Dantonio's condition following his heart attack early Sunday morning.

MARK HOLLIS: Good afternoon. Very good football game, but we're here to discuss something else today.

Coach Dantonio suffered a heart attack early this morning following the football game. Underwent a surgical procedure at Sparrow Hospital. I first of all want to thank and commend Sparrow Hospital for all the work that they did.

Throughout the evening last night, very hospitable and at the same time took care of business in a very first class and professional way.

The prognosis for Coach Dantonio was very good. A full recovery is expected. We'll hear on that here in a moment.

He's resting comfortably with his wife Becky. We're asking everyone, as we're focusing on his health, that there's no visitors down to Sparrow over the next several days while he's down there.

His return to football activities will be determined later. He will not be on the sidelines for the Northern Colorado game. But he is our head coach, will remain our head coach throughout this whole process.

Don Treadwell, our offensive coordinator, will be coordinating the football program throughout this process. I have great confidence in him, as I do the entire staff.

We met this morning and have high, high confidence that the momentum we're building is going to continue throughout this situation.

This is a time for the Spartan Nation to come together, to rally, not only for Coach Dantonio and his family, but in everything that we're doing here at Michigan State. Becky, Lauren and Kristen, our thoughts are all with them as we go through the process. We know coach will return to the sidelines very soon.

Had the opportunity, if you want to call it that, to be with coach throughout the evening last night, and with Becky. Feel very, very comfortable with where the situation is.



It's scary to hear the word 'heart attack.' I've been through it with my father. It's a very scary process, but it's also very routine in today's world.

I think you'll hear on that here in a minute.

Dr. Chris D'Haem was the surgeon last night. New friend of mine. Did a great job. He can talk you through some of that. It will be followed by Coach Treadwell on some comments.

Throughout the evening last night, Dr. Randy Pearson, our team physician, along with Sally Nogle and Jeff Monroe, attended to coach in a great, caring manner, got everything taken care of in a professional way.

I'm going to turn this over to Dr. D'Haem to kind of go through what happened early this morning actually and then we'll follow with coach.

DR. CHRIS D'HAEM: Thank you.

This morning in the very early hours, not long after the football game, Coach Dantonio began experiencing some symptoms that were later determined to be related due to an acute myocardial infarction. He did exactly what he was supposed to do, the kind of thing we always ask our patients to do, and that's to get into the hospital right away.

The emergency department staff did an excellent job. They identified the problem. We got him to the catheterization lab very quickly. I work in conjunction with Dr. George Abela, who did an amazing job just facilitating everything.

What happened was, as is expected in a case like this, we found one of the vessels that feed blood to his heart muscle to be closed. I was fortunate enough to be able to open it and put a small metallic device call a stent in the vessel, which helps to hold the vessel open and reestablish blood flow to the heart muscle.

Fortunately, his heart damage was very minimal. I think he's going to do very well. I remain very optimistic for his full recovery.

MARK HOLLIS: Coach, comments?

Don Treadwell: Football wise, certainly as Mark mentioned, our thoughts go out to Coach Dantonio. Many of us have been connected to him for many years. Our days go back to 1986 when both Coach Dantonio and I were working for Coach Tressel. We've been tied into this family for many, many years. Certainly you know how strongly we feel about Coach Dantonio.

One of the things he has certainly done is he has put in place a tremendous program. There's been a model we've been following four years here at Michigan State, three years previous to that (at Cincinnati). It lends itself to the fact that there's some great carryover that's already in place.

We will just fill in the gaps, if you will, on an as needed basis as the team moves forward and we look forward to Mark's speedy recovery.

MARK HOLLIS: Questions.

Q. You'll be acting head coach. Will you do offensive coordinating duties or pass that on to someone else?

Don Treadwell: We'll certainly continue to evaluate it as we go. At this point certainly things are in place as I mentioned for us to continue to follow suit. Each of us will roll up our sleeves as staff members to fill in where we need to as we go.

Certainly at this point we would anticipate moving forward as we've always done. Also I'm sure as we continue to visit as an offensive staff, there will be some things we'll discuss to make sure we're at our best come game day.

Q. Doctor, clarify Mark's words about 'heart attacks' today being fairly routine medically, as to where this stands and how routine this may be as heart attacks go.

DR. CHRIS D'HAEM: I'm sorry to say, it's unfortunately too routine. You can expect about a million of these happen a year. It's the most common killer of men and women.

Q. Doctor, you said it's a relatively common procedure and you expect a full recovery. Do you expect him to be able to return to coaching soon, this season? Do you see any possible long term effects on his ability to coach football?

DR. CHRIS D'HAEM: I think he's doing very well. I expect him to do very well. I expect his long term to have no negative impact.

I think as far as when he returns, that's to be determined. That's just going to be looked at on a day to day, week by week basis.

Q. Doctor or Mark, last night Coach Dantonio completed his press conference. Did it happen shortly after that? About what time did it take place? What was the process? Was an ambulance called?

DR. CHRIS D'HAEM: He started feeling uncomfortable. He started experiencing symptoms that made him aware that something wasn't right somewhere around 12:30 a.m.

As far as the details of how he got to the hospital, I'm a little unclear myself. I do believe family brought him to the hospital, to the emergency department.

Q. When you say he was suffering the symptoms, was it chest pain, shortness of breath, exactly what?

DR. CHRIS D'HAEM: In his case, as is more typically than not the case, it is a form of chest discomfort, whether it's pressure, tightness, a squeezing sensation. In his case, that's how it was. Sometimes it's in the throat, sometimes down the arms and back. It can be difficult to differentiate sometimes from other kinds of (discomfort).

Fortunately he got in in a very timely fashion. The first electrocardiogram, the (EKG), pretty much told a story. It was very clear from the get go what was going on.

Q. What time did that happen, the first EKG?

DR. CHRIS D HAEM: I couldn't tell you exactly what time without looking at the record. But typically our goal I can tell you is 10 minutes from arrival at the emergency department to get the electrocardiogram done.

Q. How long did the procedure last that you put the stint in?

DR. CHRIS D'HAEM: That whole procedure, it's usually somewhere in an hour range from the time the person arrives in the catheterization lab until the time the procedure is finished and they're rolling down the hallway to the intensive care unit. It can be a little less, a little more, depending on the difficulty.

Q. Is it similar to angioplasty?

DR. CHRIS D'HAEM: General term would be 'angioplasty'. Sometimes it's referred to as 'percutaneous coronary intervention'. Yeah, but I think most people call it 'angioplasty'.

Q. Doctor, would it be fair to call this a minor heart attack?

DR. CHRIS D'HAEM: Yes, it would. I mean, heart attacks are not good, they're never good. Certainly no implication that this is.

But, you know, in the scheme of things, what you really want is minimal heart damage. That's really what occurred and I would classify this as a relatively small heart attack.

Q. Mark and Don, from your perspective, the timing, what the night was like for you, when you found out, a little bit of what your night was like here.

MARK HOLLIS: I was contacted by Jeff Monroe. I can't even recall what time, but it was in the 2, 2:30 (a.m.) range. I drove immediately to the hospital. I spent pretty much most of the evening there until about 5 or 6 a.m. this morning, then headed back down this morning at 8.

Just continued to support Becky throughout the process, and Mark as well. Working on not much sleep right now, but thinking a lot about coach and his family.

Q. Doctor, again for the medically naïve, which I include myself in, there's going to be a layman's assumption that a game like that caused this. Can you clarify that. If he had a blockage, could this have happened another time, never? What kind of stress triggers that kind of reaction, if you get what I'm talking about?

DR. CHRIS D'HAEM: Certainly stress doesn't cause coronary heart disease. As we all know, very emotionally or stressful events can be a trigger. Whether it would have happened tomorrow or some other day, I think it's probably a pretty logical assumption.

I think we all know it was a pretty emotional night for all of us.

Q. Don, if you can just kind of let us know, you had a team meeting today, how the players reacted, kind of how they're looking at this going forward.

Don Treadwell: Certainly we addressed it with the players this afternoon on behalf of Coach Dantonio. One thing coach has always done, outside of his immediate family, his football family is very important to him.

We followed suit just like we know coach would want it to be done. We had a team meeting. We certainly addressed the fact of what he currently was going through, how he would want them to know, how we would want them to respond, et cetera.

Many things moved forward just by having information. We wanted them to hear it certainly from us on the inside before things were found out by another channel.

I think they're handling it as well as they can. They love their head coach. We know that. It's our job as assistant coaches to keep them moving forward and focused on task.

Q. Doctor, what kind of lifestyle changes would you anticipate Mark to be undergoing here in the aftermath of this?

DR. CHRIS D'HAEM: I think that's a good question because it really gets to the causative issues, what we would have to prevent this from happening again.

Like really with anybody else, you know, it's about cholesterol control, it's about basically risk factor controls, which include cholesterol, blood pressure, for diabetics, controlling their blood sugars, for smokers, not smoking, certainly watching your weight, exercising.

I think anybody that knows Coach Dantonio knows he keeps pretty fit. As far as some of these other things that are going to need to be done for him, those are going to be looked at and going to be part of the ongoing plan.

Q. Coach Treadwell, did Mark Dantonio inform you you were going to take over? Was that Mark? How did that transition go?

MARK HOLLIS: Becky and I were making a number of calls throughout the evening last night. I think Becky first got a hold of coach. Becky had to make sure the family was aware. Some of those went into the late morning today.

We wanted to make sure our athletic family, football family (knew first), so very systematically we went through to, one, discuss it. Again, I say go through the situation where you're describing exactly what this means, where it's going, kind of what the duration may or may not be so that we could handle that internally.

Once that was done, we sat down with coordinators, kind of came up with a game plan football operationally, sat down as an administrative group, talked about that, put those two pieces together so we can continue to be effective with the football program and athletic (department). Coach Izzo came over. He's part of the process.

The great thing about Michigan State, whenever these things happen, it has a tendency to bring us closer together. I think you can take adversity together and make it better. That's the blessing that comes from it.

So Coach Dantonio believes in that. We saw it come to life this morning. I think, again, Sparrow did a fabulous job. While he's through this, I know Becky and his athletic director and doctor are going to work with him and make sure that he's on our sidelines for a long, long time.

Q. Can you go into when you visited with him in the hospital, any conversations you had with him, and maybe his mood when you left?

MARK HOLLIS: I was down there. The doctor can probably speak to this as well. But his immediate concern went to his family and then to the football program. We asked that he relax and not worry about the football side of it for a period of time here.

But he was very quiet. Part of it had to do with the procedure. It was more of a friend to friend conversation, at least from my standpoint.

Becky is an extremely strong woman and she kind of held people together throughout the evening. There were a number of family members down there from Mark and Becky's family. She was the strong piece, holding everything together throughout the night.

Mark is resting extremely comfortable this morning. Sleepy, so...

Q. Doctor, as you mentioned, Mark seems to be in great shape, mid 50s. Is this something where he's maybe at a higher risk? Is it a hereditary thing with the heart attack?

DR. CHRIS D'HAEM: There are a number of factors. Certainly heredity is one. You know, it's just something that it can be sometimes very difficult for us. It can be as much of a surprise for us in some patients. You just wouldn't expect it. You know, it underscores the seriousness of this disease and the prevalence.

Q. Doctor, on that same note, do you know if there's any lipid history with him at all, as much as you could disclose, with respect to cholesterol, hereditary?

DR. CHRIS D'HAEM: I probably shouldn't comment on any of that kind of information right now.

Q. Don, what kind of challenge is this for you to take over this thing for an indefinite period of time for something you haven't done in this situation before? What kind of challenge do you face?

Don Treadwell: Well, I think, number one, you look at it day to day. One thing Coach Dantonio has taught us as staff members, when there's a lot of things going on, et cetera, the best medicine is to focus on what you can control, to take a deep breath, just kind of take it one step at a time. We're going to do that.

Again, as I mentioned a little bit earlier, one of the neat things about our staff is that we have been with Coach Dantonio the full four years here, three years previous. So, you know, the system is in place of what he wants and how he has done it. We're very knowledgeable of that. So those things will continue to be up and running.

I'm sure as we unfold things through the week, there will be things that maybe as I sit here today I'll know much more about three days from now and certainly come game day.

Certainly the team is the most important focal point. We want to make sure our young men are ready to play ball as we consistently go through the process of week as we do in coaching in setting up, whether it be practice plan, motivational things of that manner.

We have tremendous coaches on board here. As I mentioned earlier, we'll roll up our sleeves collectively, move forward and do the job that needs to be done.

Q. Don, you've known Mark longer than any of us. What are your thoughts as things have unfolded? I know some may be private.

Don Treadwell: You're always just kind of stunned, I would say, when something happens. Many of us, I'm sure we've talked about here today, have maybe had someone in our families that have undergone something similar to what Coach D has done. It certainly hits home a little bit more when it's someone that you have known and cared about for such a long period of time.

But your thoughts are certainly to be with him in prayer, but also to be with him in any capacity that they need you as a family. I know our staff is certainly rallying with our wives around Becky and certainly us as a staff collectively together.

It's never an easy thing. But we would want to continue to do what Coach Dantonio would have us to do. That's where we're at at this point.

Q. I wanted to ask how the players were notified, what their response has been in the wake of all of this news, what you said to them, if you had a chance to meet with them.

Don Treadwell: Basically we met with them earlier, maybe around noon it might have been. Again, more of an information process, just letting them be aware, Hey, here is the situation with Coach Dantonio. We had Jeff Monroe there. Jeff did a great job really breaking down a little bit of, `Hey, this is exactly from a technical standpoint how it was worded'. He did a very good job explaining that. Ken Mannie visited with them on some things as well.

Of course, each position group even took time once we finished with the full team meeting to, again, break away and make sure everybody is okay and understand that Coach D is going to be moving forward but not at the same time take anything for granted.

I'm sure it was a solemn kind of moment at that point. I think the kids appreciated the fact that, hey, just as Coach Dantonio has always done with us, he's forthcoming, sharing what needs to be shared, then from there move forward.

Q. Doctor, in terms of a timetable for Mark's return, is it feasible he could be back on the sidelines October 2nd, the following game? Any idea about a possible timetable?

DR. CHRIS D'HAEM: Just again, we're going to take that week by week.

MARK HOLLIS: Thank you.

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