By Dave Wagner
Eastern New Mexico University women’s basketball coach Dan Buzard had a brain tumor surgically removed Monday in Albuquerque, where he remains hospitalized.
Buzard, 36, was taken ill over the weekend while in Albuquerque.
“Sunday he just got really sick at my parents’ house,” said Buzard’s wife Jennifer. “He looked really pale and started shaking. We took him to the emergency room and they did a catscan.
“Later on, they told us he had a brain tumor that was about 8 centimeters. They told us on Monday morning that the tumor was in the brain, and it had shifted the brain about one centimeter.”
Jennifer Buzard said her husband had “a small seizure” in September and had suffered off-and-on headaches since then, including occasional periods of vomiting over the last 2 1/2 months.
On Wednesday, she said they were waiting for a pathology report to determine if the tumor is cancerous. Surgery on Monday removed about half the tumor, she said, with another surgery scheduled for today to try to get the rest of it.
ENMU women’s assistant coach Dustin Klafka said he hasn’t talked to Buzard since last week, but knew he hadn’t been feeling well, especially lately.
“I don’t think he or anybody knew the extent of it,” said Klafka, who became Buzard’s top assistant last year after spending a season at Texas A&M-Kingsville. “We’re just kind of waiting and watching and hoping for the best. I’m sure he’ll be back and ready to go before we know it.”
Klafka said the Zias have their squad in place for the coming season, with school starting Aug. 30 and conditioning workouts beginning after Labor Day.
“His health is more important than anything right now,” Klafka said of Buzard. “I can deal with anything work-wise that needs to be taken care of.”
ENMU athletic director Mike Maguire said he visited by phone Wednesday with Buzard.
“He sounded in good spirits,” Maguire said. “He said he had a rough night (Tuesday), but he was feeling OK.
“My wife went through this whole cancer thing, so we’ve learned to wait and see. When we get the pathology report, we’ll know more.”
A Portales native and 1992 Eastern graduate, Buzard spent 13 years as a grad assistant and full-time assistant. He is just the fifth coach in the 30-year history of the ENMU women’s program, having replaced longtime coach Wayne Moore in 2002.
The Zias went 7-20 in Buzard’s first year at the helm, but improved to 16-12 in 2003-04 as he earned Lone Star Conference South Division coach of the year honors.
Jennifer Buzard said her husband is looking at least another 2-3 weeks in the hospital, but added that if things goes well he could return to coaching this year.
“We’d appreciate everybody’s thoughts and prayers in the Clovis and Portales area,” she said.