Thursday, September 20, 2012

Roy Williams’ surgery ‘shock to everyone’

North Carolina head coach Roy Williams directs his players during the first half on Friday, March 23, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

North Carolina head coach Roy Williams directs his players during the first half on Friday, March 23, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.


Roy Williams gathered his golf buddies last week in a cottage in western North Carolina to report some disturbing news.

Williams, North Carolina’s 10th-year basketball coach who ran Kansas University’s program for 15 years, told his pals during their annual excursion that he needed surgery to remove a tumor from his right kidney and might need similar surgery on the left kidney.

“He’s in great health, so obviously it was a shock to everybody,” said Randy Towner, general manager at Firekeeper Golf Course in Mayetta, who is a longtime friend of Williams. Towner was speaking Wednesday afternoon, shortly after Williams underwent a robotic partial nephrectomy at UNC Hospitals to remove the tumor from his right kidney.

Dr. Eric Wallen, professor of urology at UNC, and co-surgeon Dr. Mathew Raynor led the surgical team, which took 31⁄2 hours to complete the operation. Doctors have not determined whether the tumor, which was discovered during a physical exam, was malignant or benign, ESPN reported, and that may impact whether Williams has to have a second surgery next month. Test results are expected within a week.

“He’ll be fine. It’s all scary, but the odds are well in his favor. I told him, ‘You’ve got a pretty good winning percentage anyway (.801),’’’ Towner said with a laugh. “I said, ‘You may have coached in some must-win situations, but they don’t mean much compared to this.' I think he’ll coach a lot of games and win at least one more national championship before he hangs it up.”

Dr. Wallen said Williams, 62, should be able to coach when the Tar Heels begin practice for the 2012-13 season on Oct. 12.

“The surgery went well and according to plan,” Wallen said. “Coach Williams did great. I fully expect him to coach this season and for years to come. He could miss some practice time if we perform another procedure sometime in October, but he would be able to resume his coaching duties prior to the start of the regular season.”

There is no follow-up chemo or radiation for kidney cancer if the tumor turns out to be cancerous.

“Obviously, health is more important than basketball. We all wish him a speedy recovery to get himself back to 100 percent real soon,” KU coach Bill Self told the Journal-World. “Roy obviously did a remarkable job at the University of Kansas. Remarkable. He’s a great ambassador for our sport, and certainly everybody in the athletics community I’m sure sends their well-wishes with us.”

UNC assistant coach Steve Robinson expects Williams will have to slow down a bit in coming weeks.

“Coach is coach. He’s going to be anxious, and he can’t sit still very long,” Robinson told the Associated Press. “But we just want him to make sure he has a full recovery.”

C.B. McGrath, a Tar Heels assistant who played and coached under Williams at KU, said everyone wants Williams to return as soon as he can.

“All of our veterans know what they’re supposed to do. All of us working for coach all these years know what we’re supposed to do. So things are going to be fine as usual with the program. We just obviously are more worried about coach Williams and his health,” McGrath told the AP.

Williams, who in past seasons has had occasional bouts with vertigo and back problems, had shoulder surgery three years ago to repair a torn labrum.

He called a team meeting Tuesday night to tell the players he would have surgery Wednesday.

“When we all heard, it was just that awkward silence in the room,” senior guard Dexter Strickland said. “We didn’t expect that at all, especially from him. You can’t really explain it.”

Williams, who has 675 wins in 24 seasons, won NCAA championships with the Tar Heels in 2005 and 2009.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with coach Williams and his family for a full recovery,” UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham said. “Obviously, his health and prognosis are my greatest concerns. He’s in great hands with the medical staff at UNC Hospitals. The basketball team is also in outstanding hands with Steve Robinson, C.B. McGrath, Hubert Davis and Joe Holladay. As coach Williams frequently says, he has the best staff in the country and I know they will do an excellent job as coach Williams recuperates. We will be ready for his return as soon as he is able to do so, but I have stressed to him that he returns only when he has been given the medical approval and he is ready to do that. Hopefully that will be soon and for a long, long time to come.”

“I think all of us are in charge,” said UNC's Robinson, who worked as an assistant on Williams' staff at KU. “We’ve all got our duties and our responsibilities, and I don’t think we have one single person where we say, ‘OK, this guy is in charge of everything.’ You know who’s in charge of everything? Roy Williams is in charge.”

— The Associated Press contributed to this report


Janet Olin 1 year, 7 months ago

Best wishes for a speedy return to good health, Coach. Jayhawk Nation is rooting for your recovery.


TexasHawk44 1 year, 7 months ago

Get well soon, Roy. Great coach and a good man. Godspeed.


stm62 1 year, 7 months ago

I had a lot of great memories of Roy and affection for him when he was the jayhawks coach. This is why it hurt so much when he left. I was never as upset with Coach Williams as I was with UNC. For a school and program that prides itself on class, I thought it was pretty classless to make coaching overtures towards Roy while we were making a possible national championship run. I never root against Roy, but I'll never root for the Tarheels no matter who they play (Missouri might be an exception). I guess thats conflicting, but that is how I feel. Get well Roy!


gatorhawk45 1 year, 7 months ago

Roy...Roy...Roy...Roy! Get well soon.

As for LJW, WTH is the ad for doing on this site? It makes me want to puke every time I open up to my homepage. Surely there is good money to be made elsewhere. (Roy would like it either)


MrPilot 1 year, 7 months ago

I wish Coach Williams a full and speedy recovery. Thanks Coach, for all you did for Kansas basketball.


Lance Hobson 1 year, 7 months ago

Thank you for all you did for KU, Roy. And get well soon, college basketball needs it's gracefully aging professors.


texashawk10 1 year, 7 months ago

I hope Roy gets well soon and can coach again for UNC this season and that he doesn't need the second surgery.

I know this is totally unrelated, but Billy Gillespie resigned as head coach at Texas Tech today.


milwaukeeJAYHAWK 1 year, 7 months ago

Get well, Roy.

And to any fellow KU fans who can't get over Roy's been almost 10 freaking years. Get the f--- over it.


bradam 1 year, 7 months ago

Wishing Coach Williams a speedy get-well and all the best luck, except when the Jayhawks play the 'Heels. You're a good ol' Roy. In this forum, where a sport is the main topic but occasionally situations like this one are the focus, a bit of censorship in the name of common decency is fine by me.


Clarence Haynes 1 year, 7 months ago

Roy! Have a gosh darn super recovery!


okiedave 1 year, 7 months ago

Best wishes to Roy and his family while he travels through this chapter in his life. He is a classy coach and person and deserves several more years of coaching.


HawkKlaw 1 year, 7 months ago

Get well Roy! You're a BAMF!


dannyxo 1 year, 7 months ago

Get well soon Coach Williams. I was as mad as anyone when he left, and have taken more joy in the two recent wins over UNC (2008 and last year) than any other KU games I have watched. But I also look forward to the day when Ol' Roy can come back to the Fieldhouse and be thanked for what he did for us the 15 years he was here.


jaybate 1 year, 7 months ago

Dear Roy,

Get well, so we can beat you again.

Get well, so you have more time with your family.

Get well, so you can live long enough to retire, cease being a threat to KU recruiting, and come back an be regaled as the great Jayhawk you were, and remain.

God speed.

And good luck, to the man who institutionalized winning at KU at an 80% clip.


notjustbread 1 year, 7 months ago

Get well soon and again... thank you for recruiting Wayne Simeon


John Miller 1 year, 7 months ago

Get well soon to a great coach and a class guy Best of Luck


Sally Presson 1 year, 7 months ago

Get well soon Roy!!! You are in our prayers.
Rock Chalk


gammimc 1 year, 7 months ago

The man is a class act, regardless of your feelings toward him. Get well soon!


Robin Smith 1 year, 7 months ago

I propose that we KU fans find a way to send our well-wishes to Coach Williams, so that in this tough time he can feel our support and love. Maybe as an article or a physical card that we send. A gesture of this kind would be very special and meaningful for him, I'm sure.


gchawk 1 year, 7 months ago

I hated to hear about Coach's health condition, but hopefully the tumor(s) are caught in time to be completely and successfully eliminated. Prayers are with you Coach Williams.


Ron Franklin 1 year, 7 months ago

I was in 100% disagreement with what wats said above.

But it's even more disgusting that You removed the comment.

That was his opinion. Many people come here to share opinions.

He wasn't using foul language or doing anything many people here don't do on a regular basis--he was bashing somebody else that's it. That is very commonplace on this site.

Your censorship is for the weak, LJW.

You have repeatedly proved over the several weeks you are not a supporter of one the very core values of this country--and our First Ammendment Right.

You should be ashamed of yourselves.


KGphoto 1 year, 7 months ago

When you left Kansas to coach North Carolina, I said you were dead to me. For God's sake Roy I didn't mean it! It was a pitiful, awful thing to say. I was emotional, because you meant so much to us. Besides I got over it when you cheered us on sporting a Jayhawk in the championship. (actually I got over it when we whooped you in the Final Four, hehe)

Get through this and make it back to Lawrence for a game. Make it back to be honored somehow. I'll travel from Colorado for that one, I assure you. And Jayhawk nation will welcome you with open arms.

Geez, I'm getting emotional just thinking about all this. Get well Roy!


Michael Luby 1 year, 7 months ago

Get well soon Roy. UNC is a great hospital. Best of luck to you for the quickest recovery possible. Being in the medical profession, I know any type of cancer is never good news, but your in good hands. That Doc was right, youve got an incredible win record. Win this one and maybe KU can beat you again in the final four.


Tony Bandle 1 year, 7 months ago

19 classy responses and 1 butthead...I wish our government could even remotely approach this ratio.

Coach Roy, you couldn't have been nicer when I spoke with you and your family that night in '96 on Kannapali Beach during the Maui Tournament. You breathed life back into our basketball program for which I will be forever grateful.

Just focus on getting healthy will alwys be there.


Beate Williams 1 year, 7 months ago

Roy get well; follow the doctors orders like you expect your players to follow your orders on the court. HighEliteMajor, I totally concur with your comments and as much as I hate to call people names, wats211 you are an idiot, with absolutely no compassion or common sense or decency. You could only be so lucky to face such serious health problems. Get a life.


justinryman 1 year, 7 months ago

As I struggle with my own health I can only pray and feel for Roy and his family.

I can only imagine the fear, the questions and the worries they are all facing.

God bless and take care.


wrwlumpy 1 year, 7 months ago

I opened up a second bank account just to get a Roy bobblehead .


juke4jay 1 year, 7 months ago

Get well soon Roy, we like the competition!

And for Wats211, you failed the intelligence test bud! Badly!


doolindalton 1 year, 7 months ago

Must have been all the cokes. When you get better, coach, bring your team back to AFH for the first game of a a head to head. You've been gone long enough. It's time.


Alohahawk 1 year, 7 months ago

The basketball community is one big ohana ("family" in Hawaiian), and Coach Williams will always be a member of KU's elite ohana of coaches. Wishing you a quick recovery and the best of health in the future, Roy. Here's hoping the Jayhawks vie for a few more national championships against N. Carolina while your head coach of the Tarheels.


mojayhawk 1 year, 7 months ago

My prayers are for you even as I type this message. Get better, and we'll see you on the court.


wats211 1 year, 7 months ago

Roy....get well you can face all the wrath of NCAA.....does anyone think tha the great Holden Thorp would retire if the allegations were only football...get real...Roy's NCAA titles are you think that the group Doherty brought in....McCants and company ...tainted...but they are clear..but with Thorp resigning...its BASKETBALL and Roy's in big trouble...and he knows it....I always thought he was fake and I knew it would come out...Roy cheats and he cheated here also...hes just very good at it...but does that make it RIGHT?//of course not...he preaches integrity...but the man lacks at all costs...bring the school the money..the revenue.....and we wiill do everything we can to hide it...UNC got caught...and its big trouble...thats why this recent Duke allegation came out....deflect and deny...pathetic stuff...and try to bring Duke into the sewer with won;t work..but UNC alums and boosters will do anything to make their wrongs......;RIGHT! ............Roy brought us years of great basketball....but after he was established...he couldn't help himself and then when he went to UNC.......................WINNING is everything....winning by any means possible...but we have the lawyers and the connections to deflect....


Nathan Scholl 1 year, 7 months ago

Hard feelings aside, get better Roy, Jayhawk Nation is on your side. That being said, I still don't want you to win any more National Championships! Heh heh. Health is more important than rivalries, get better soon.


Jacob Zutterman 1 year, 7 months ago

I still have some hard feelings, but you can't blame the guy for leaving. Wish nothing but the best for you "Ol' Boy Roy" and will keep you in my prayers!


Brendan Connolly 1 year, 7 months ago

Best wishes Roy to you and your family.


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