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Wednesday September 22nd, 2021 10:43AM

Former Georgia, Miami coach Richt says he has Parkinson's

By The Associated Press
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ATLANTA (AP) — Former Georgia and Miami football coach Mark Richt has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Richt, who guided the Bulldogs for 15 seasons and closed out his coaching career at alma mater Miami, made the announcement on Twitter.

“I have been waddling around lately and people have been asking me what's wrong,” he wrote Thursday. “I've decided to tell everyone at the same time. I have been diagnosed with Parkinson's.”

The 61-year-old Richt said he is relying on his deep faith to cope with the condition.

“Truthfully I look at it as a momentarily light affliction compared to the future glory in heaven,” he wrote. “Thank you Jesus for promising us a future blessing of a glorified body that has no sin and no disease.”

Richt said he intends to continue in his role as an analyst on the ACC Network.

Parkinson's is a progressive nervous system disorder that causes shaking, stiffness and difficulty with walking, balance and coordination. The symptoms usually begin gradually and worsen over time, and often include difficulty talking. While there is no cure, medication can help alleviate the symptoms.

Richt's announcement was met with encouragement from coaches and former players.

“Saddened after hearing the news about Coach Richt,” Kirby Smart, who succeeded him as Georgia coach, wrote on Twitter. “Coach Richt embodies everything that a #DGD (Damn Good Dawg) represents. My thoughts go out to Coach, (his wife) Katharyn & his whole family. Dawg Nation will be behind you the whole way.”

Former Georgia defensive star David Pollack said Richt "has always prioritized his faith. In winning, losing, and now in the face of adversity. The Pollack’s are praying for you! Love you coach!”

Richt, who first made his mark as Bobby Bowden's offensive coordinator at Florida State, compiled a 145-51 record at Georgia until his dismissal at the end of the 2015 season.

He led the Bulldogs to a pair of Southeastern Conference championships, including in 2002 to break a 20-year drought. Georgia made five appearances in the SEC championship game, compiled nine seasons with at least 10 wins and was invited to 15 consecutive bowl games.

Shortly after parting ways with Georgia, Richt landed the head coaching job at Miami, where he was a backup quarterback from 1978-82.

He was 26-13 in three seasons with the Hurricanes, which included a 10-0 start in 2017 and a climb to No. 4 in the rankings before they lost their final three games. After being routed by Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game, Miami lost to Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl.

The Hurricanes began 2018 ranked in the top 10 but slumped to a 7-6 mark. Richt surprisingly announced his retirement at the end of the disappointing season and was quickly replaced by Manny Diaz, who had been set to take over as Temple's head coach.

“The entire U Family is behind you!" Diaz tweeted after hearing of his predecessor's condition. "God will equip you with what you need for this battle!”

In 2019, Richt revealed that he had suffered a heart attack but was expected to make a full recovery.

Now, he's dealing with another health issue.

“I am going to enjoy the blessings that I do have,” Richt said. “See you on the ACCNETWORK!”

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 and his work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry

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More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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