Digger Phelps Diagnosed with Cancer

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistApril 25, 2013

Feb 9, 2013; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish former coach Digger Phelps (right) speaks on the set of ESPN College Gameday before the game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Louisville Cardinals at the Purcell Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Former Notre Dame men's basketball coach and current ESPN analyst Digger Phelps has been diagnosed with bladder cancer, according to a report filed by the network on Thursday evening. 

Phelps underwent surgery recently and will head back to his home in Indiana to undergo further treatment. It's unknown at this time exactly when Phelps had the surgery or how far the cancer had progressed before being detected, but the former Irish coach seemed to be in good spirits.

Saying that he plans on returning to ESPN for next college basketball season, Phelps released a prepared statement through the network. 

Phelps said, "'he and his family appreciate your thoughts and prayers as he prepares for the 2013-2014 college basketball season.'"

The 71-year-old Phelps has been with ESPN since 1993, becoming one of their most renowned college basketball analysts over the past two decades. Known at least colloquially for his Sharpie marker matching his tie on almost every telecast, Phelps' knowledge of the game comes from his years on the bench.  

He spent two decades prior to joining ESPN as the head basketball coach at Notre Dame. Winning 20 games in 13 of his 20 seasons in South Bend, Phelps made the 1978 Final Four and is largely credited for resurrecting the Irish basketball program. His career at Notre Dame was also highlighted by the Irish snapping UCLA's record 88-game winning streak in 1974.

Including his one-year stint at Fordham, Phelps finished with a career record of 419-198 after leaving Notre Dame in 1991. 

Our thoughts are with the Phelps family as we wish Digger a speedy recovery.