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Health problems cost UNH its coach barely a week before football season opens

Sean McDonnell has led the Wildcats and bedeviled archrival UMaine for 20 years.
Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski
New Hampshire Wildcats head coach Sean McDonnell in the second half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, in Boulder, Colo.

DURHAM, N.H. — New Hampshire football coach Sean McDonnell is taking an indefinite leave for health reasons.

The school did not elaborate on the condition of the 62-year-old coach. Athletic director Marty Scarano said Monday night associate head coach Rick Santos, a former quarterback at the school, is now the interim head coach.

McDonnell has been New Hampshire's coach since 1999 and on staff since 1991. He made no mention of the change during a weekly media call Monday. He has 98 career wins in the Colonial Athletic Association - tops among active league coaches and No. 3 overall.

Excited to announce that UNH Football legend Ricky Santos is returning to the sidelines for the Wildcats! #GraniteStrong #BleedBlue bit.ly/2VLiplk

Santos was a four-year starter at UNH from 2004 to 2007. He coached the team's wide receivers from 2013 to 2015.

The Wildcats open at Holy Cross on Sept. 7.