Southern Miss coach Ladner recovering from “heart-related emergency”

Published 4:06 pm Thursday, February 8, 2024

HATTIESBURG (AP) — Southern Miss men’s basketball head coach Jay Ladner is “in great spirits and resting” after he was hospitalized after suffering what the school described as a “heart-related medical emergency.”

School officials said Ladner is expected to make a full recovery, but will step away from the team for now. There was no timetable for his return. Associate head coach Juan Cardona will act as head coach while Ladner recuperates.

Cardona coached the team to a 78-73 victory over Old Dominion on Wednesday night. The Golden Eagles’ next game is Saturday at home against Western Michigan in the MAC-Sun Belt Challenge. Tip-off is at 1 p.m. and the game will be streamed on ESPN+.

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Following Wednesday’s victory, Southern Miss player Austin Crowley said he received a congratulatory text message from Ladner. Crowley finished with 30 points and 11 rebounds in the win.

“Great job, AC. Love you. Way to step up,” is what Crowley said his head coach texted him after the game.

In a statement released Thursday, Ladner’s family thanked the Southern Miss community for its support and the staff of Forrest General Hospital for taking care of Ladner.

“We are so thankful for your support and hope to respond individually to each of you in time. We also want to commend the staff and physicians of Forrest General ER in Hattiesburg for their quick and professional attention that saved Jay’s life,” the family’s statement read. “At this time, Coach is in great spirits and resting. Many of you have offered so much help, but right now the most important support that coach Ladner and our family needs is to see huge crowds and fan participation in the coming home games.”

The 58-year-old Ladner is in his fifth season at Southern Miss and has a 61-84 record, including a 37-19 mark over the last two seasons. Southern Miss went 25-8 and won the Sun Belt Conference regular-season title last year. The Golden Eagles are 13-11 overall and 7-5 in the Sun Belt this season after Wednesday’s victory.

He took over Southern Miss’ program after going 76-88 in five seasons at Southeastern Louisiana, including a 39-28 record over his last two years.

He coached at the high school level in Mississippi for over two decades and was head coach at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, from 2012-14, before being hired by Southeastern Louisiana.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Jay and his family as he works to make a full recovery,” Southern Miss athletic director Jeremy McClain said in a statement. “We will continue to support our coaches and student-athletes at the highest level while he is away from the team.”