Allen breaks silence:
HC football coach diagnosed with MCS
by John Connolly
Tuesday, August 5, 2003
Veteran Holy Cross football coach Dan Allen yesterday sought to dispel any unconfirmed rumors about his medical condition, saying he has multiple chemical sensitivity.
He pledged to continue coaching at Holy Cross, which opens its season Sept. 6 at Lehigh.
Allen, 48, took a medical leave of absence on Oct. 7 of last season, just two days following Holy Cross' hard-fought 28-19 loss at Yale. He returned to his post for the final four games of the regular season.
Yesterday, Allen accompanied defensive coordinator Leo Fanning and Holy Cross sports information director Larry Napolitano to Bethlehem, Pa., where they will attend today's Patriot League football media session hosted by Lehigh.
"I'm doing OK," Allen said by phone. "We're optimistic. It'll take time. I'm not where I want to be right now."
MCS symptoms are triggered by exposure to chemicals in a variety of common products, from air fresheners to car exhaust to pesticides. Some symptoms include nasal congestion, nausea, irritability, fatigue,memory problems and depression, and range in severity from mild to incapacitating.
"Everybody's different," Allen said. "In my situation, just about any chemical now affects my central nervous system, from the exhaust from cars, fumes, colognes. I'm sensitive to just about anything. I'm working with the doctors and eventually, they tell me, I'll become immune to that."
"It's just something that takes time. (The diagnosis) took time because the symptoms mask so many other things. I've known for a while. I just have to try to avoid a lot of things. I'm working hard at it."
"The doctors that I'm working with on this are brillant. We're doing all kinds of treatments and making progress."
Allen had kept his condition a private matter. One reason why he decided to discuss it publicly was to give his family a little peace of mind. Last week, a column in a Worcester newspaper incorrectly suggested Allen was about to be replaced.
"It's another reason why I want to come out right now because there have been so many rumors out there," Allen said. "There was an article in a local paper just last week that was totally false. It's just not fair to my family. So I want to let people know and put all the rumors to rest."
Allen said he plans to direct the team from the coaches' box during games. Bob Griffin, a former head coach at Rhode Island, will run the Crusaders offense from the sidelines. Mike Pedone will oversee the Holy Cross running game, while Fanning will serve as defensive coordinator and Vince Sinagra will coach special teams.
"I'm not as mobile and I'm not walking that well right now," said Allen, who has used a wheelchair at times to get around. "I'll coach from up in the box. Hopefully, by the end of the season, I'll be down at the sidelines running the show. I have a great staff and we work well together."
Holy Cross got off to a fast start last season by stunning Div. 1-A Army, 30-21, but finished the season 4-8.
Allen, who has also coached at Boston University, became Holy Cross' 26th head coach in 1995.
"I think as a team we'll be pretty good," Allen said of the upcoming season. "We've had a great spring. We have a lot of young kids, but we feel good about where we are. We have a ways to go, but that's what preseason is all about."
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