Bartow to start treatment next week

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Former UCLA and UAB basketball coach Gene Bartow has been diagnosed with stomach cancer.

The 78-year-old Bartow, currently the president of the company that owns the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies, will begin outpatient treatment at the Kirklin Clinic in Birmingham next week, UAB said Wednesday.

Grizzlies majority owner Michael Heisley said in a statement released by the team they recently learned Bartow had become ill with cancer.

"We spoke to him today, and he is doing well, and is very optimistic. Currently we have little information, but we will provide further updates when it becomes available with the blessing of Gene and his family," Heisley said in the statement.

Bartow succeeded John Wooden as UCLA's coach in 1976 and led the Bruins to the Final Four. He left after two seasons to start Alabama-Birmingham's program.

"Coach Bartow is the person most responsible for this athletics program and means so much to UAB and all Blazers," UAB athletic director Brian Mackin said.

Bartow spent 13 seasons with UAB and was the university's longtime athletic director. He coached the school to the final eight in 1982.

Bartow is to be inducted in the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in November. The Grizzlies were to honor Bartow for his recent induction into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame before Wednesday night's regular-season finale against Atlanta.

Bartow won 647 games over 34 seasons. He also coached Memphis State from 1970-74 and guided the school to the 1973 national championship title game, where the Tigers lost to a UCLA team coached by Wooden.