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Coaches’ families involved in Katrina drama

Hurricane Katrina’s impact continues to be felt within the University of Idaho athletic department.

Men’s basketball coach Leonard Perry was chatting on the phone with his dad when Leonard Sr., a police officer for 28 years in Chicago, casually mentioned he had volunteered to help out in New Orleans. The elder Perry leaves Saturday for Louisiana.

“My dad isn’t the kind of guy to pick up the phone and tell me that, but we just happened to be talking because I was going to be in Chicago recruiting,” Perry said. “They asked guys (in Chicago) if they wanted to be part of it and my dad said, ‘Yeah, I’d love to be part of it.’ I told him I was really proud of him.

“I don’t know specifically what he’ll be doing, but it could be patrolling or evacuation or clean up,” Perry said. “Whatever FEMA needs him to do.”

Idaho cornerbacks coach Alundis Brice, a Mississippi native, said his immediate family in Brookhaven is fine, but he hasn’t heard about a couple of aunts and uncles who are from New Orleans. His 1-year-old son is safe and staying with relatives in Montgomery, Ala.

Brookhaven is about 130 miles north of New Orleans.

“My mom is OK, and they’ve got some power back on,” Brice said. “My brother and grandmother and a lot of my friends don’t have power, and the phone system is still down. They’ve got some shingles blown off the roof and a little damage that can easily be repaired. My brother had a tree fall on one of his cars, but it’s nothing that can’t be replaced. They survived, that’s the most important thing.”

Brice said he hopes to visit Mississippi during Idaho’s bye week in mid-October.

“I just sit here and worry because I can’t go help,” Brice said. “I haven’t talked to my brother since this thing started, and that’s probably toughest of all because I used to talk to him every day.”

The families of Vandals receivers Christan Populis and Wendell Octave, both natives of Louisiana, evacuated before Katrina’s arrival.

Proett sidelined

Repeated knee injuries have ended Zach Proett’s basketball career at Idaho.

Proett, a 6-foot-10 center who prepped at Mt. Spokane, played two minutes in one game last season as a redshirt freshman. Proett suffered a torn ACL in his knee during his senior season at Mt. Spokane and redshirted at UI in 2003-04. After last season he had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in the same knee and doctors found “a dent in the bottom of my femur,” Proett said.

“I’m doing what I can to stay around the team and help out,” said Proett, who is now on a medical scholarship and doesn’t count toward the basketball team’s scholarships.

Said Perry: “He’s still part of our program. He’s not a coach, but he’s almost like a coach, helping us with things. It’s almost like a work-study deal.”

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