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Thursday, July 6, 2000

Report: Williams to stay

Coach turns down alma mater

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— Roy Williams decided he couldn't leave Kansas.

After a difficult week that was part agony, part ecstasy, Williams will announce tonight that he will remain as the Jayhawks' head basketball coach, declining an opportunity to replace Bill Guthridge as head coach at North Carolina.

A source close to the North Carolina program said Williams called former UNC coach Dean Smith, athletic director Dick Baddour and Guthridge approximately 7 p.m. and told them he couldn't leave Kansas. Williams told Smith there was nothing that UNC could have done differently to have changed his decision.

UNC officials had faxed a letter to Board of Trustees members Thursday outlining the terms and conditions of a five-year agreement with Williams, asking them to expedite their approval.

Baddour has called a press conference for 10:30 p.m. in Chapel Hill to address the situation.

Williams' announcement forces UNC officials to start over in their efforts to find a replacement for Guthridge, who resigned last Friday. South Carolina coach Eddie Fogler, Milwaukee Bucks coach George Karl and Notre Dame coach Matt Doherty are expected to be candidates for the job.

The head coach at Kansas for the past 12 seasons, Williams wrestled with the decision for several days. Picking between his alma mater in his home state where he had been an assistant coach to Dean Smith and his adopted home in Lawrence, Kan., where he had become a part of the Jayhawks' rich basketball tradition was a choice Williams said he never wanted to make.

It didn't come easily.

Though he had promised a decision by today so both schools could begin summer recruiting with the issue resolved, Williams appeared reluctant to disappoint either side. Signs urging Williams to stay were visible around the Kansas campus and school officials said more than 2,000 e-mails had been received asking the coach to stay.

After visiting with North Carolina officials Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, Williams had a brief vacation at his beach home near Charleston, S.C., before returning to Lawrence late Wednesday.

"The past seven days have been the most difficult of my life," Williams said upon his return to Kansas Wednesday evening.

Williams met with Kansas athletics director Bob Frederick and chancellor Robert Hemenway Thursday morning then went to his office at Allen Fieldhouse. Williams later walked alone around the Kansas campus before heading to his home in the afternoon. He slipped away briefly to hit some golf balls late in the day while Kansas officials announced the evening press conference.

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