Iowa Basketball Starter Cites ‘Struggle With Anxiety’ for Leaving Team

  • Iowa Hawkeyes starter Patrick McCaffery stepped away from the team to focus on his mental health.
  • In an Instagram post, the forward said his anxiety has “inhibited” his preparation and performance.
  • His head coach, who is also his father, said the Hawkeyes “admire his courage and willingness to be open.”

Patrick McCaffery is taking a break from basketball.

The Iowa Hawkeyes starter, and son of head coach Fran McCaffery, has decided to step away from the team due to his continued “struggle with anxiety,” he and the program announced in a statement released Tuesday.

“I have been battling anxiety for a while, and recently it has peaked, which has inhibited my preparation and performance on the court,” Patrick said. “It’s not fair to myself or teammates to be on the court when I’m not myself.

“For this reason, I am taking an indefinite leave to address my situation,” he added.

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The 6-foot-9 forward detailed some of the effects his anxiety has on his daily life, noting that it impacts “every aspect of my well-being and makes it incredibly difficult to function normally.

“The anxiety has affected my sleep, appetite, and stamina, which has resulted in not having the energy level necessary to compete at my full capabilities,” McCaffery added.

He also confirmed that his departure from the team is unrelated to his battle with thyroid cancer at age 13.

Patrick McCaffery squares up to take a shot during a 2022 NCAA tournament game.

McCaffery squares up to take a shot during a 2022 NCAA tournament game.

Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports



The redshirt junior started the 2022-2023 season with career-best averages in scoring and rebounds. And as Iowa’s third-leading scorer on the year, the Hawkeyes will certainly feel his absence on the floor for however long McCaffery is gone.

“It might be two games, it might be four games, it might be more,” he said in the statement. “But I will return when I feel like myself.”

Fortunately for McCaffery and other student athletes at Iowa, the school employs several sports psychologists and therapists. According to the Hawkeyes’ Counseling and Psychology Services webpagecurrent student-athletes can receive “confidential personal counseling, performance psychology services, and psychological rehabilitation from injury” free of charge through the athletics department.

Patrick McCaffery (left) hugs his father and head coach, Fran.

McCaffery (left) hugs his father and head coach, Fran.

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall



On behalf of himself and his team, Fran McCaffery commended his son for “his courage and willingness to be open about this struggle,” adding that he “has the full support of his family, coaches, teammates, and administration as he fights through this .

“We hope others know that they are not alone,” McCaffery said. “We will be with him every step of the way.”

Although he’s not suiting up for the team at present, Patrick appears to be staying close to the program during his mental health hiatus.

Patrick McCaffery celebrates a made shot during the Hawkeyes' upset of the No.  15 Indiana Hoosiers.

McCaffery celebrates a made shot during the Hawkeyes’ upset of the No. 15 Indiana Hoosiers.

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall



The 22-year-old was seated just behind Iowa’s bench at Carver–Hawkeye Arena Thursday night as the unranked Hawkeyes upset the No. 15 Indiana Hoosiers with a 21-point comeback — the third-largest in school history.

Representatives for Iowa’s student-athlete counseling and psychological services department did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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