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Emergency surgery to remove pressure on Notre Dame coach Lou Ho

September 13, 1995

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) _ Emergency surgery to remove pressure on Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz’s spinal cord was deemed successful by doctors at the Mayo Clinic said.

Doctors discovered a bone growth was compressing Holtz’s spinal cord after he complained of weakness in his leg and arm muscles in recent weeks, said Dr. James Moriarity, university physician.

During surgery Tuesday, doctors removed the disc in Holtz’s neck that was bulging against his spinal cord, and replaced it with a bone graft. The 4 1/2-hour surgery went well and there were no complications, according to a statement from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

``From what I’ve heard, everything went exceptionally well, and that’s definitely a relief to this football team,″ said Bob Davie, Notre Dame’s interim coach and defensive coordinator.

Senior offensive guard Ryan Leahy said the news that Holtz was OK brought up a new problem _ what to get the coach for a get-well gift.

``You don’t want to send some flowers,″ he said with a laugh.

Holtz was expected to be transferred to a regular room today after spending Tuesday night in the intensive care unit for observation, said Mike Enright, Notre Dame’s assistant sports information director. That is normal procedure at Mayo Clinic, Enright said.

Holtz is expected to be hospitalized through this weekend, which means he won’t even be on campus for No. 24 Notre Dame’s game Saturday against Vanderbilt. Holtz will be out at least three weeks.

``As soon as coach Holtz is out of recovery long enough to be able to understand what we’re doing and understand what’s going on, there’ll be constant communication,″ Davie said. ``In fact we joked that we’re going to have to get a Betacam unit set up there in his hospital room up there because I’m sure he’s going to want to watch those practice tapes every night.″

George Kelly, assistant athletic director, traveled to Minnesota and planned to see Holtz and his wife Beth on Tuesday night, Enright said. Notre Dame’s athletic department also held a Mass for Holtz on Tuesday morning.

``Everybody at the University of Notre Dame is happy that surgery was successful with coach Holtz,″ Enright said. ``Everyone at Notre Dame wishes him well in recovery and looks forward to having him back on campus as soon as he feels ready.″

Holtz, 58, is in his 10th season at Notre Dame coach. The Irish victory over Purdue on Saturday was Holtz’s 200th win, making him the 15th college coach ever to reach that milestone.

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