Local News

Williams: 'How Can I Be Torn If They Haven't Offered Me Job Yet?'

Posted April 11, 2003

— Kansas coach Roy Williams, who led the Jayhawks into last Monday's national championship game, said he won't again speak with North Carolina officials about their vacant coaching position until at least Sunday.

The former UNC assistant, who turned down the Carolina job three years, insisted that he is not torn between the two schools.

"How can I be torn if they haven't offered me the job yet?" Williams said with a smile.

"There are so many other things going on right now," he said. "And again, it's less than 72 hours away from the national championship game, so why would I be in a hurry to run off somewhere?"

UNC athletics director Dick Baddour said Thursday he will begin to look at other candidates to replace Matt Doherty as the Tar Heels' head coach.

"Coach Williams and I feel the timing is too near the end of the Final Four," Baddour said, "and there is too much going on in Lawrence at this time for us to conclude our talks. We have had good conversations that will continue over the next few days. He understands we will continue to proceed with other candidates, as well."

As of 6 p.m. Thursday, Williams still planned to leave Friday night for the Wooden Awards ceremony and festivities in Los Angeles, said Kansas sports information director Mitch Germann. He is expected to be in L.A. until Monday, staying at the sprawling plantation of a prominent KU booster.

The 52-year-old Williams turned down the Tar Heels in 2000 when Bill Guthridge retired, saying he couldn't leave his players or the program he built into a national power.

He has won 418 games and been to four Final Fours in his 15 seasons there. But he has never won the national title.

Interim KU athletics director Drue Jennings met with Williams for 30 minutes Thursday to reiterate how much Kansas wants him to remain in Lawrence.

"I don't want to pressure him, but I don't want him to think he is unloved either," Jennings said.

Jennings said Williams expressed his regard for Kansas during the meeting.

"He absolutely loves this school," Jennings said. "This is his program. He didn't build the tradition at Kansas, but he sure as heck has embellished it.

"He loves the kids. Loves his players. He's no less endeared to them than he was three years ago when he had this same issue. It truly tugs at him."

On Wednesday, Kansas chancellor Robert Hemenway fired athletics director Al Bohl, whose relationship with Williams had been strained since Bohl was hired two years ago.

Bohl said Williams orchestrated his dismissal. Hemenway denied he fired Bohl to persuade Williams to stay at Kansas.

Sophomore Keith Langford, one of Kansas' top returning players, said he would consider transferring if Williams decides to leave.

"I just want to play basketball and hopefully to continue to play for coach Williams," Langford said. "I can't see myself playing for anybody else at this school."

Once Williams balked in 2000 after a week wait, Baddour settled on the inexperienced Doherty. That proved to be a mistake.

Doherty went 53-43, and his team missed the NCAA tournament two years in a row. He alienated some of his players and UNC athletic department staff before being ousted more than a week ago.

Williams reportedly has had several conversations with former Doherty in the last couple of days and is reportedly troubled by the process that led to Doherty's resignation.

North Carolina players Will Johnson, Raymond Felton and Sean May were handed a copy of Baddour's Thursday statement as they headed to the basement of the Smith Center to lift weights. They seemed frustrated to still be without a coach.

"We had thought we'd have one by the championship game, "Noel said. "I guess we'll just have to move forward and wait some more.

"Hopefully, Dick Baddour can hire somebody for us and make the right decision for us. This is setting us behind a little bit. Without a coach, we don't have any chemistry; it's hard to come together."

Said KU's Langford: "I'm not worried at all. I'm staying confident he'll be back here next year."

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