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Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Lawrence special to Selfs

Coach met wife here during 1984 Big Eight Conference tournament

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Bill Self's love for Lawrence isn't entirely basketball-related.

This also is the place he met the love of his life, wife, Cindy.

"I guess that's right," Cindy said with a grin Monday, minutes after her husband was announced as the eighth men's basketball coach in Kansas University history.

The two weren't strangers during college in Stillwater, Okla. Bill played basketball for Oklahoma State, and Cindy, two years younger, was a cheerleader.

But it took a meeting in Lawrence during the 1984 Big Eight tournament before the pair started dating.

"Back then the tournament was on campus sites, and that was the first time he ever came up and talked to me," Cindy said.

After Self graduated and was awarded a graduate assistant job on Larry Brown's coaching staff for the 1985-86 season, Lawrence again played a vital role in the couple's courtship.

"That was not an easy year on our relationship," Cindy said because of the distance and time apart.

But the two became even closer.

During that difficult year apart she learned of the dream job that Self settled into Monday after working the past three years at the University of Illinois.

"I never really thought about it," Cindy said of whether her husband ever would coach at KU.

"In our minds, in 15 years, this is where you want to be," she continued.

"And yes it is. That was it."

The Selfs and their two children -- Lauren, 12, and Tyler, 9 -- are again in the state where Bill's basketball coaching days began.

They're also "a lot closer to home," said Cindy, who hails from Yukon, Okla. Bill is from Edmond, Okla.

"My parents live in Oklahoma City, and his live at Grand Lake, so we'll be able to visit each other a little easier," Cindy said.

While Cindy said the move will be hard on the kids, who will finish out the school year in Illinois, they also were excited.

"It's definitely hard," said Lauren, who like her father and mother wore a Jayhawk pin supporting their new school. "But it was a family decision and a big dream of Dad's."

Tyler, who spent most of the day hanging around his mother's waist, or poking on his sister, said the toughest part of the past couple of weeks was a lack of sleep.

"Not much," Tyler said with a grin, when asked if he'd gotten any sleep.

While the children were close with Illini players, the biggest bust of the ordeal might be the fact that the Selfs will never again travel to the Sunshine State.

"Yeah, we'll never go to Florida again," Cindy joked, of the family's shortened vacation last weekend and the fact that Bill left Tulsa for Illinois in 2000 after a visit to Florida.

But Bill's dream-job decision wasn't easy.

"When we were in Florida, Cindy and I and the kids, we labored a lot," Bill said. "When you pour yourself into a situation, it makes it much tougher to let go. We had poured ourselves into the situation at Champaign, and it was tough.

"We knew that this was a decision not based on the immediate future. This was a career-ending decision based on our family and the betterment of it. After a lot of talks with people that I firmly respect, it was a decision that had to be made and a decision that I am very happy with and very happy to be here."

So are the rest of the Selfs.

"Ever since that year here, KU's been a program he's dreamed about," Cindy said. "And here we are."

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