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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Miller: Runnin’ Utes continue to play for coach’s late father


Before tip-off Sunday night, the usual ruckus Huntsman Center was the scene to a much more somber moment.

As the game was set to begin, it was announced that Utah assistant coach Andy Hill’s father Rick had passed away Saturday morning, succumbing to brain cancer. The arena went completely still as a moment of silence was held in Rick’s honor.


“It was rough,” Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “[Saturday] morning we got the news and since last week he’s been on the decline. I saw him early last week and we knew the outlook wasn’t great. He’s been struggling.”

The Utes have dedicated the season to Rick, and his initials are stitched onto the neck of each Utah jersey. It’s a physical manifestation to something that goes much deeper.

Krystkowiak doesn’t do things just as gimmicks. The dedication of the season, the initial on the jerseys, all were sincere tributes to a man that he greatly cared for. Andy Hill coached with Kryskowiak when he was at Montana, a decade ago. Rick’s passing was felt deeply by the Utes.

“We just try to be there for Rick, and I feel like he is still around,” Ute center Jakob Poeltl said. “We dedicated the season to him, and now we have to keep going hard and finish the season.”

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Rick was in attendance when the Utes hosted UCLA in early January. Before the players took the court that day, they all individually greeted Rick. They fought for him, and he received inspiration because of it.

Even then, though, Rick was feeling pain, suffering from the disease that was attacking his body. It’s not often that spiritual matters are touched on, but Krystkowiak wasn’t afraid to share his beliefs where Rick has ended up, and for the Utah head coach, there is solace to be taken in the fact that Rick no longer has to fight.

“I know where he is,” Krystkowiak said. “He’s the kind of person that’s going to have a life after this one and that’s the thing I think of, is that he doesn’t have to struggle anymore.

“He’s a prideful man. You can see it that he was frustrated. You could go see him in his hospital bed, and he was angry because that’s not how he wanted to be.”

Over the last two seasons, cancer has had its effects on the Utes. Athletic trainer Trevor Jameson is battling the disease and Mac Brennan, a son of Utah administrator Kyle Brennan, was diagnosed with leukemia.

On Saturday morning though, the effects were felt the heaviest.

Before Sunday’s game, Andy’s mom and brother met with the Utes, thanking the team for the help they have given the family.

“It was a big impact,” Utah guard Delon Wright said of the meeting. “Some of our coaches were really close to him, so it was tough to lose someone in our family.”

Playing with heavy hearts the Utes did what they have been doing all season, routing California, 76-61. With another Pac-12 win, the season dedicated to Rick continues to push forward, and a season Rick can enjoy without suffering.

“He can watch us now without being in a lot of pain,” Krystkowiak said.

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