By Matt Stevens - IlliniGuys Football Writer/Analyst
March 10, 2022
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- An Illinois football assistant coach is taking an indefinite leave of absence from the program to battle colon cancer.
Illinois tight ends coach and special teams coordinator Ben Miller announced Thursday afternoon he is taking a health-related leave of absence after recently being diagnosed with colon cancer.
“Although it is difficult to be away, I will be taking a temporary leave from coaching to focus on my health," Miller said in a university statement. "In early February, I was diagnosed with colon cancer and have already undergone a successful surgery and will begin chemotherapy treatments soon. I will remain in communication and be involved with our staff and student-athletes as much as possible. Thank you to my wife, Meghan, my kids and my extended family for their strength and encouragement. I appreciate Coach Bielema, the staff, and the Illinois athletic department for all the incredible support. I cannot wait to return as soon as possible. I-L-L."
Miller agreed to return to the Illinois football program in Jan. 2021 and his move back to Champaign was as one of the first assistant coach hires of Bret Bielema’s new Illini staff after 14 seasons as an assistant coach at Air Force.
“Ben is very unique blend here at the University of Illinois.” Bielema said in a university statement when Miller’s hiring was announced. “He returns after a stint here as a graduate assistant and will work with our offensive staff as well as in special teams. He is from the state of Ohio and will represent us in the recruiting efforts from coast-to-coast and continue to build championship young men for us at the University of Illinois.”
A 2002 Air Force Academy graduate, Miller spent the 2006 season as the offensive graduate assistant at Illinois under Ron Zook before returning to Air Force. He spent nine seasons as the running backs coach and 13 years coaching the specialists, including the last 10 as the special teams coordinator.
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