Scott Ward, the University of Kansas’ associate athletic director for academic and career counseling, suffered a tear in his aorta on Friday morning and on Friday night had surgery at University of Kansas Hospital, Kansas associate athletic director Jim Marchiony told The Star.
Ward, who is in charge of academics for KU men’s basketball and women’s volleyball, was flown to the University of Kansas Hospital from Lawrence Memorial Hospital on Friday morning.
“He underwent an operation this evening,” Marchiony said in a phone interview. “The doctor said it went very well. He (doctor) said it was the first step in 1,000 steps.”
Ward was listed in “critical condition, as anybody with that surgery would be,” Marchiony stated Friday night.
Kansas basketball coach Bill Self and volleyball coach Ray Bechard were at the University of Kansas Hospital on Friday, along with several athletic department officials and current and former student-athletes.
“We love ‘Scooter,’” Marchiony said, using Ward’s popular nickname, one he is referred to by virtually everybody in the athletic department. “The student-athletes he works with love him, and there are some here at the hospital right now.
“The student-athletes love him. The coaches love him. The administrators love him. We are all concerned. Our thoughts are with him and with Robin, his wife.” Marchiony added.
A native of Kingman, Kan., Ward received his bachelor’s degree in education from KU in 1991, his master’s in 1993 and Ph.D. in education with emphasis in sport psychology in 1996. He has been academic counselor for the basketball team during Self’s 14 years at KU.
Self once said of Ward in an interview with Andy Samuelson of the Lawrence Journal-World: “He’s so proud to be a part of the athletic program and the basketball program. Scott has a disability (broke his neck in 1986 when he was a freshman at Hutchinson Community College and suffered paralysis from the neck down) that he doesn’t want anybody to ever know that he has. But his attitude is always positive. He works his tail off. It’s amazing, he doesn’t have bad days. When you got to get up sometimes at 5 o’clock in the morning to get to work by 8, and you never have a bad day, that’s a stud in my book.”
Or as Marchiony said Friday night: “... If anybody can make it through this, he can.”
There was concern among players who have received the news of Ward’s surgery.
Former Kansas forward Cliff Alexander Tweeted on Friday night: “Praying for Scooter can’t believe this.”
Current guard Frank Mason Tweeted: “Pray for Scooter.”