CHAPEL HILL, N.C. North Carolina football coach Butch Davis is undergoing chemotherapy after a dentist removed a cancerous growth from his mouth.
"I know people are going to be concerned and everything, but it's going to be OK," Davis said Tuesday. "We're going to get through this and we're going to have a great season next fall."
The 55-year-old coach said he wasn't even aware he had a growth when he saw his dentist late last month in Cleveland for a routine cleaning. After the growth was removed, a biopsy diagnosed it as non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
Subsequent exams found no evidence that the cancer has spread, but Davis said he is undergoing chemotherapy as a precaution. He had his first two-hour session last week, and will have between three and six more UNC Hospitals at Chapel Hill, at two-week intervals.
Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system and can occur most places in the body. The two main kinds are Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"The first day (after the diagnosis), obviously you're shocked," Davis said. "It's like, "What?"
The former Cleveland Browns and University of Miami coach was hired in November. He replaced the fired John Bunting, who had just one winning season in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels finished the 2006 season with a 3-9 record, winning their final two games.
The Tar Heels held a two-hour workout to open spring practice under Davis on Monday and are scheduled to return to practice Wednesday.
After meeting with his team, Davis spoke with a handful of reporters about the diagnosis. He said he didn't want his it to be a distraction for a program that is coming off a 3-9 season and that he asked his players not to discuss his health.
"Honestly, I am fine," he said. "I want the focus of this spring to be about this team. I have every intention of being the coach here for a long time and after we talk about it today, then I really don't want to talk about it any more."
Davis went 51-20 at Miami from 1995-00, returning to national prominence a program saddled with severe scholarship reductions and a one-year postseason ban because of a lack of institutional control.
He left Miami in 2001 to coach the Cleveland Browns.