John Schlarman, a former offensive lineman for the Kentucky Wildcats who became an assistant coach for the team, died Thursday after a two-year battle with cancer, the school announced. He was 45 years old. Schlarman was the Wildcats' offensive line coach and was hired by the team in 2013 after spending time at Troy.
"I'm heartbroken to learn about the passing of my friend, John Schlarman," Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. "My prayers go out to LeeAnne and the kids, Joseph, Benjamin, Matthew and Evelyn, through this very difficult time. John was everything we all strive to be – honest, tough, fair, respected. Kentucky football won't be the same without him but his legacy will never fade. He was a fighter and we will strive every day to honor his warrior spirit."
In 2018, Schlarman was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma. He continued to coach during his treatment and was awarded the game ball after the team's win over Tennessee. That would be the last game Schlarman would coach as he missed the next two contests.
"The UK Athletics family is in deep sorrow on the passing of John Schlarman," Mitch Barnhart, Director of Athletics said in a statement. "Throughout the last two years, he has been an incredible inspiration. He taught people how to live and showed all of us what it means to be courageous. John was a great husband and father, teacher and leader. He will be remembered for the love he had for his family, his dedication to his players and his excellence as a coach. Our prayers and heartfelt condolences are with his family and all who knew and loved him."
Schlarman was one of the original members of Stoops' staff in 2013. He came to Kentucky after spending six years at Troy where he was the offensive line coach and run game coordinator. He also spent time coaching high school football after being a graduate assistant for Kentucky from 2000-2002.
Schlarman enrolled at Kentucky in 1993 and was a four-year starter on the offensive line. He was named to the All-SEC team during his senior year and was named to the SEC All-Freshman team in 1994. Schlarman was named the team's most outstanding offensive lineman in 1995 and 1996.