Roy Williams is leaving the head coaching job at Kansas University to return to the University of North Carolina, his alma mater.
As he arrived about 5:20 p.m. at Lawrence Municipal Airport to board a charter flight bound for North Carolina, a tearful Williams said, "This place will never be far from my heart."
Williams, his wife Wanda, assistants Joe Holladay and Steve Robinson arrived together at the airport in Williams' car. A charter flight from North Carolina had touched down there about 4 p.m. Williams parked his car and spoke while the other three boarded the plane. Then he climbed aboard to ready for takeoff.
Earlier, leaving a team meeting at Allen Fieldhouse, a teary eyed Williams said, "There will be a press conference later on tonight. At that time, things will come out.
"Every day that I've been here you guys have been fantastic, and I know this is hard to get you to understand, but there will be a press conference later tonight."
Williams did not say where the press conference would be or if he had been offered or if he had accepted the UNC job.
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North Carolina has scheduled a press conference for 8:30 p.m. CST. Reports from North Carolina said Williams would accept the position at that time.
A few Jayhawks also said Williams told them during the 30-minute meeting Monday afternoon that he was leaving for UNC.
Those players were not pleased with the decision.
"I gave my right arm for him, literally. I gave my right arm for that man," sophomore forward Wayne Simien grumbled as he left Allen Fieldhouse after a team meeting in which Williams said he was leaving KU.
Simien took off his arm brace in disgust as he made the comment. Simien did say he would return to KU next year.
"Yeah, man. I'm here," he said.
Fellow sophomore Keith Langford admitted shock.
"Hell yeah, I'm surprised. I didn't come here for this sh.... My future is uncertain. They're searching for a new coach. I don't know what my future is."
Most of the Jayhawks stormed by the media, declining comment.
KU recruit Omar Wilkes said he didn't know if he would still attend the University.
"I do love Kansas, but Roy Williams was a huge part of bringing me there," Wilkes said. "I fell in love the man. He's still the greatest coach in America."
Before the players announced Williams' decision, the touchdown of a Cessna turbojet at 3:58 p.m. Monday at Lawrence Municipal Airport fueled rumors Williams was leaving. Sources in the air charter industry said the plane had flown from Fayetteville, N.C., to Lawrence.
Fifteen minutes after Williams left the fieldhouse, Chancellor Robert Hemenway, interim Athletic Director Drue Jennings and associate Athletic Director Richard Konzem went into the player locker room to talk with the players.
Upon leaving the meeting, Hemenway said he would release a statement later Monday.