Wright State basketball: A special Christmas for Nagy family

FAIRBORN -- Wright State coach Scott Nagy has five children, and he can probably expect the usual dad gifts for Christmas like ties and socks.

But Nagy has already received the best present he could get.

His father is cancer-free.

Dick Nagy — who had an extensive career as a basketball coach and has been a regular at Raider games since his son took over five years ago — was diagnosed with leukemia in late July and had to endure three rounds of chemotherapy at a facility near his home in the Chicago suburb of Mundelein, Ill.

As grueling as that’s been for him, though, doctors gave the family a report last weekend that they’d been longing to hear: the treatments were successful.

“It’s great news for all of us and for him,” Scott Nagy said. “His attitude has been phenomenal — way better than I would expect from someone. He can be a bear sometimes. But he’s been great.”

Dick Nagy, 78, spent 33 years in coaching, mostly as a top assistant. He worked for the legendary Lou Henson at Illinois for 17 years, helping the Illini reach the NCAA tourney 14 times and advance to the Final Four in 1989.

He also was on the bench for Wright State-rival UIC when it won the Midwestern Collegiate Conference in 1998.

He did some radio broadcasting, too. But he’s better known around the Wright State community for being his son’s biggest supporter, getting so worked up during games while sitting in the stands behind the bench that the crowd can easily hear him give refs an earful.

But he wouldn’t have been able to watch games this year even if COVID-19 hadn’t stopped fans from attending.

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

“There were a couple of times where he had fevers and had to go into the hospital. But for the most part, they’ve come a long way with (chemo),” Nagy said. “Not everybody responds the same way. Like, he didn’t lose his hair or anything. His body handled it pretty well.

“But it’s hard for everybody. It’s hardest for his wife, who’s trying to manage a business, a beauty salon there. And everything falls on her. ... We tried to get up there and help her as much as we could. Now that my season has started, it’s been much more difficult, and everything falls on her shoulders.

“But she’s been incredible. She’s been a trooper.”

Scott Nagy, 54, probably wouldn’t have gotten into coaching if not for his dad. When he was 6 or 7, Dick Nagy was coach at Barton County Community College in Kansas and would take him to games.

They ended up working together briefly at Illinois. And Scott has forged his own successful career, winning more than 500 games over 26 seasons at South Dakota State and Wright State.

“The hard part is just not being able to get up and see him as much. I still went a couple times. I’ve got a good staff, and they can handle things when I’m not around. But once you start playing games, then it’s really hard to go,” Scott said.

Trying to recover during the virus also has meant the elder Nagy spent more time in isolation than he otherwise would have.

The Nagy children are all grown and could have made arrangements to see him themselves.

“My wife and I have been up there, but none of my kids have seen him since March. (The cancer diagnosis) was tough news for them,” Scott said.

In the midst of the ordeal, though, the Nagy family had a reason to celebrate. Scott and wife Jamie became grandparents for the first time when son Nick, who is an administrative assistant on the Raider staff, and his wife Jordan had a baby last spring named Riley.

Scott said of his father: “He had a great-granddaughter born just a month before we found out he had leukemia, and he’s not had a chance to see her personally yet. That’ll be the next step.”


Green Bay at Wright State, 4 p.m., ESPN3, ESPN+, 106.5

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