BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) _ Indiana assistant Bill Lynch will be head coach for the 2007 season as Terry Hoeppner continues his absence due to illness, the school said Friday.
Hoeppner, who turns 60 in August, has undergone two brain surgeries since December 2005 and is on his third medical leave from the team. His latest absence, which began in mid-March, is the longest of the three in two seasons with the team.
``Hep means a great deal to so many of us and his health is a primary concern,'' IU athletic director Rick Greenspan said in a statement. ``As we rapidly approach the season, we believe this clarity is needed regarding the leadership of our football program.''
Lynch, who is offensive coordinator and assistant head coach, has filled in for Hoeppner during his absences.
Hoeppner's wife, Jane, said in the statement that her husband over the past several months has received chemotherapy and radiation treatments for his illness.
``This battle requires us to focus our energy and attention on aiding his recovery in every way we can,'' she said. ``Our family is confident that Bill and the staff will do a great job this season. These comments would be incomplete without Hep's ultimate statement to all of you _ Don't quit.''
Hoeppner, who regularly plays golf at fundraising events in the spring and likes to recruit, has not been seen publicly since late February.
In a statement issued in early May through the university, Hoeppner said he remained ``inspired to return to coaching when my health permits.''
``I love Indiana University and Indiana football and will make decisions in the best interest of the program, as I have always attempted to do,'' the statement said.
Greenspan said at the end of this season, the school will evaluate the circumstances and move forward with a coaching decision.
The move to name Lynch was made after Greenspan and the Hoeppner family consulted, the statement said.
Hoeppner, who was 48-25 in six years at Miami, was hired by Indiana after the 2004 season and has a 9-14 record in two years with the Hoosiers. In December, Hoeppner signed a two-year contract extension that would keep him in Bloomington through June 2012.
Lynch had an 81-67-3 record in 14 seasons as a head coach at Ball State, Butler and DePauw. He came to IU with Hoeppner and also oversaw the quarterbacks for the Hoosiers in 1993 and 1994.
``His (Hoeppner's) courage serves as an example to all of us and we are prepared to follow his example as we look to achieve great things this season,'' Lynch said in the statement.
The Hoosiers open the season Sept. 1 at home against Indiana State.
Junior wide receive James Hardy, a significant part of the Hoosiers offense, said the team's prayers are with their coach and his family.
``We are focused on having the best season we can possibly have and Coach Lynch will continue to bring out the best in us,'' he said.