Sean McDonnell has had some tough battles during his time as the head football coach at the University of New Hampshire. His next one won't be fought on the field.
McDonnell is battling cancer. His son Tommy McDonnell, a former UNH basketball player and current running backs coach for Johns Hopkins, posted the news on his Instagram page.
"Watch out cancer, you got the toughest guy in the world coming at you," the post said. "Let’s attack this thing!"
McDonnell has been the head coach at UNH for 21 years, and led the 'Cats to 14 straight playoff appearances, a streak that ended in 2016. Both Ohio State head coach Ryan Day and UCLA head coach Chip Kelly have been members of his coaching staff.
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
The coach got a shoutout on ESPN's College GameDay from host Rece Davis last week.
"We want to send our best out to (McDonnell) who’s the head coach of New Hampshire, he’s taken a leave of absence as he’s battling cancer," Davis said in the broadcast. "We certainly wish him our best as he continues that fight."
Athletic Director Marty Scarano announced on Aug. 26 that associate head coach Rick Santos was named interim head coach, effective immediately. Santos played quarterback for McDonnell from 2004 through 2007, and led the Wildcats to the first postseason win in program history in 2004 over Georgia Southern.
The Wildcats lost to Holy Cross in the first game of the season, and will take on Florida International University tonight at 7 p.m.