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Ken Sparks to Continue Coaching, Treatment Planned for December

by Adam Cavalier, Athletics Communications Director

Jefferson City, Tenn. – Carson-Newman head football coach Ken Sparks will coach the 2012 season as he works to overcome cancer.

Sparks’ historic 33rd season at the helm of Eagles football program was up in the air a month ago following a diagnosis of and surgery for prostate cancer.

However, the outlook changed for the positive after a recent follow-up exam.

“My tests were excellent, I was cleared to run 4 miles the other day, it was a lovely pain,” Sparks said. “I’m scheduled for radiation starting in December after the national championship game. It’ll be six weeks of daily radiation treatment, but I’m thankful that I can be used by the Lord to encourage men to not only take care of their physical bodies, but also take care of themselves spiritually.

Sparks, 68, is on the verge of becoming the 11th coach to hit the 300-win mark. With his next win – his 300th – he’ll tie Delaware’s Tubby Raymond and enter the top ten for wins across all divisions. The 1968 C-N graduate is already the all-time wins leader for Division II coaches.

Sparks credits his faith for helping him through this time.

“The Lord called me to coach,” Sparks said. “He’ll let me know when it’s time not to coach. If I don’t connect with kids, then I don’t need to be trying to coach kids. If I don’t have a greater reason to coach than football, then I need to do something else.

“I’ve looked in the Bible for retirement help, but I can’t come up with it.”

Sparks’ cancer was rated as a nine out of 10 on the Gleason Scale. A rating of 10 is the most aggressive form of prostate cancer.

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