Arkansas St. coach Anderson takes leave to be with wife

Field Level Media

August 20, 2019 at 12:16 am.

The Arkansas State athletic department announced Monday that football coach Blake Anderson is taking an indefinite leave of absence to be with his wife Wendy, who has breast cancer.

Anderson gave advance notice to school officials about his temporary departure, telling reporters at Arkansas State’s Media Day on Aug. 1 that he “kind of always wanted to make sure we were super prepared, pray for the best but prepare for the worst.”

In 2017, Wendy Anderson was diagnosed with triple-negative stage four breast cancer. She underwent multiple treatments but cancer spread to her liver, lungs and lymph nodes, according to a family announcement in March.

Serving as interim head coach until Anderson returns will be first-year defensive coordinator David Duggan, who was linebackers coach at Western Michigan the previous three seasons.

At Sun Belt Media Days in July, Blake Anderson discussed his wife’s status.

“I fully expected we’d be standing before you today telling you, man, we beat cancer,” he said. “I would love to be telling you that. It’s just not where God has got us right now. Just limited details, I would tell you that it has been a tough summer. It’s been a long, hard summer, but she’s one of the toughest fighters I’ve ever met. We are still knee-deep in the battle, and I would just tell you the prayers are needed more now than ever before. But we just continue to fight every day, and even my players have been inspired by just her willingness to fight and not make excuses and just battle every day. So I appreciate you asking and appreciate the thoughts and prayers, and please just continue, if you can.”

On Monday, Arkansas State athletic director Terry Mohajir said in a statement, “We will continue to pray for peace for his family and provide assistance any way we can.”

He also addressed the “outpouring of support for Coach Anderson, Wendy and their family, not only locally, but nationally. Coach Anderson has expressed how grateful his family is for all the thoughts and prayers, and we are also thankful for everyone’s support.”

Arkansas State’s season opener is a home game against SMU on Aug. 31.