ORONO, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- After taking over the head coaching duties back in January, former University of Maine women's basketball standout Amy Vachon was named iterm head coach of the Black Bears for the upcoming season.
Richard Barron has stepped down from the role as head coach after taking an indefinite medical leave in the middle of his sixth season with the team. Barron led the Black Bears to back-to-back America East regular season championships and held an 85-89 record. He released an update on his health on Wednesday afternoon.
"Early this season, I started to notice some changes in my health. On Dec. 8, I had sudden sensorineural hearing loss accompanied by vestibular issues. We struggled to diagnose the underlying cause and initially I feared that my condition was terminal. Because of that uncertainty, I stepped away as head coach in early January.
Thankfully, it appears my condition is not life-threatening. However, we still have lots of questions about the long-term prognosis. I have two parallel neurological conditions: Demyelinating Peripheral Neuropathy and Vestibular Neuritis. The former leaves me with pain, numbness, weakness, etc. in my arms and legs. The latter has caused Hyperacusis, Diplacusis and Vestibular Migraines. The hyperacusis and Vestibular Migraines can be debilitating, especially outside of a controlled environment.
My doctors have told me that there is reason for long-term optimism with medications and therapies but it is also something that could stay with me for a year or longer or permanently."
Barron cited those medical reasons and future treatment for stepping away from the program.
Under Vachon's leadership, the Black Bears went on finish the 2016-2017 regular season with a 16-15 record. In the conference tournament, UMaine advanced to its second-straight America East Championship game after upsetting top-seeded University of New Hampshire in the semifinals.
Vachon becomes just the third Maine high school graduate to be named head coach of the UMaine women's basketball team. The other two coaches were Joanne Palombo-McCallie (Brunswick) and Cindy Blodgett (Lawrence).
As a member of the Cony girls basketball team, Vachon was a two-time state champion and was named the Gatorade Maine Player of the Year twice. She went on to have even more success at the Division I level. She led UMaine to two America Each championships (1997, 1998) and four-straight NCAA tournament appearances.
Vachon has spent the past six years as a member of the Black Bears coaching staff. The University of Maine has scheduled a press conference for 3:00 PM and we will hear from Vachon and Athletic Director Karlton Creech later on NEWS CENTER.