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Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Where was Williams?

The lack of recognition for one of Kansas University's most successful coaches was a noticeable omission in the 50th anniversary celebration for Allen Fieldhouse.

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When is it best to let a questionable situation or occurrence pass without comment so as not to disturb or anger anyone, and when is it appropriate to call attention to something that doesn't reflect well on an individual or institution? There probably isn't any perfect answer to that question. Nevertheless...

A week or so ago, a Journal-World editorial noted that good Kansas University basketball fans should be supportive and appreciative of all the good things former coach Roy Williams did for the university and the state of Kansas. Unfortunately, there are some in Lawrence and elsewhere who, for one reason or another, find it difficult to say anything positive about the man, his record, his contributions to the university and his outstanding coaching record.

Bill Self, one of the nation's top basketball coaches, replaced Williams after his move to North Carolina and has done an excellent job. KU has been fortunate to have the services and commitment of Williams and, now, Self leading the Jayhawks.

Everyone should be happy and appreciative.

Apparently, however, there are some at the university who do not want to do anything to call attention to Williams, his record or what he meant to KU and its basketball program.

Last Friday, KU athletic department officials threw a large party to recognize the 50th anniversary of Allen Fieldhouse and many of those who played a significant role in the storied history of one of the nation's most revered college basketball arenas.

It was a grand party in most every respect, with many former players recognized, as well as some of the coaches and former athletic department people. There was one glaring omission, however, that was noticed by many who attended the event.

Williams, who coached at KU for 15 years, compiled more wins than any other Allen Fieldhouse coach, won more league championships and made a huge contribution to the school's basketball program, received almost no mention during the event.

The only reference to Williams in the entire program was a statement, after a video of a game was shown, noting something like "this was the last game (or appearance) of Roy Williams."

Doesn't it seem reasonable that a coach who spent 15 years at KU -- 30 percent of the 50-year history of the fieldhouse -- would have warranted more than a mention of six or seven words? Video messages were played from Larry Brown, a great coach who left KU for the professional San Antonio Spurs, and Ted Owens, another excellent coach who was present at the gathering. Recognition was given to the widow of the late Dick Harp, another excellent coach, and to the family of Phog Allen. All of those people deserved to be honored, but what about Williams' contribution? There was no video and hardly any mention of Williams' 15-year tenure at Allen Fieldhouse.

Why the snub? Doesn't such continued, petty behavior reflect unfavorably on the university?

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