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


Jacob Zutterman 8 years, 5 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!

Nathan Scholl 8 years, 5 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.

Brad Watson 8 years, 5 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....

nuleafjhawk 8 years, 5 months ago

Seriously dude (or whatever you are) ???

If you have a problem with Williams, so be it - but this is not the time to spew your poison. Nothing like kicking a man when he's down.

I'm glad that you aren't the chosen spokesperson for KU fans. Roy was a GREAT coach here ( and at UNC ) and he was a GREAT spokesperson and representative for the University of Kansas while he was here. Heck - he was a great spokesperson and rep for us AFTER he left too.

Get over it.

Jayhawk444 8 years, 5 months ago

Pretty much what i expected to find in the comments section after reading the article - mostly classy Jayhawk fans wishing Roy well, and one or two complete jerks who just couldn't hold back and keep their negativity to themselves.

Jack Wilson 8 years, 5 months ago

wats211: Here's what I'd like you to do .. prove it. Prove your allegations. Demonstrate some proof to your underlying premise as opposed to just saying it. You clearly suggest Roy Williams to be a cheater, saying "Roy cheats and he cheated here also .. " How? What has he done? Take some time, come back with a comprehensive post with your citations. You throw out crap like that and you don't even have the ability to cite anything?

Folks like you simply talk out of their a**.

And what's more pathetic, is that you do so out of either hard feelings (if you're a KU fan) or blind hatred (if you're a Duke fan). Either way, you're pathetic. Heck, even when we bag on Missouri, we cite the record.

Roy Williams was and is a great basketball coach and the 15 seasons he gave KU were some of the best this school has seen. We all owe him a debt of gratitude. He let this program in a great position when Self took over. In retrospect, we all can understand why he went to UNC. We may still feel the pain a bit, and take a little extra pleasure in beating him .. but it's a friendly competition. We're glad we have coach Self, but we also wish Roy wouldn't have left. We can feel both.

Hope coach Williams can get well soon. And hope that he understands that Jayhawk nation is in his corner on this one.

REHawk 8 years, 5 months ago

A very sound posting, HEM. I ground my molars when Roy departed, and felt an extra bit of seasonlong emotion for Kansas players whom he walked away from. I got over it when he showed up on the screen at that '08 title game, decked out with a Jayhawk. Roy's 15 years in Lawrence helped maintain and build upon the platform of tradition and attitude that have led to Bill Self's 8 consecutive league titles. I wish him fast and full recovery, and look forward to future competition when he and Bill Self go head to head.

Tim Orel 8 years, 5 months ago

I can't read the original post. Thanks for describing at least part of it. Perhaps wats211 was referring to the violations for paying players once their eligibility was finished. The NCAA found it to be a minor infraction, and I never understood how Roy didn't think through the plan to realize of course it would be a violation of the rules, but it was a very minor amount that was paid, it was not enough to sway anyone's judgement about whether to come to KU at all and it didn't result in major penalty. Still, it was a violation by Roy while he was here.

I, too, was a huge Roy fan and was very disheartened to have Dean Smith recruit him for UNC during the tournament, as I've also been a UNC fan due to the ties to KU's program. I am still a little bitter, but not enough to root against Roy and certainly not enough to root against him at this time.

Michael Bratisax 8 years, 5 months ago

We still feel the pain because he meant so much to KU. Really well stated HEM.

Dan Harris 8 years, 5 months ago

This is not the forum to spew your hatred of Roy. You are obviously not a true KU fan so go back to whatever whale s##t you crawled out from under! Godspeed Roy! Hoping fpr a complete and speedy recovery.

Marcia Parsons 8 years, 5 months ago

This quote "and try to bring Duke into the sewer with you...:" makes me think you are a Duke fan visiting our board just to say vicious things. Go away.

mojayhawk 8 years, 5 months ago

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

Alohahawk 8 years, 5 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.

Brad Avery 8 years, 5 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.

Mike Skiles 8 years, 5 months ago

Get well soon Roy, we like the competition!

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

wrwlumpy 8 years, 5 months ago

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

justinryman 8 years, 5 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.

Beate Williams 8 years, 5 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.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 5 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.

KGphoto 8 years, 5 months ago

Can you thumbs up your own comment. Surely that was it.

Michael Luby 8 years, 5 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.

Rodney Stice 8 years, 5 months ago

Roy get better, if I was an employee at UNCM I would demand to take care of you. You will always be a Jayhawk coach. thank you for fifteen great years.

KGphoto 8 years, 5 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!

Ron Franklin 8 years, 5 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.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 5 months ago

There's a place for common sense and a place for common decency and the First Amendment does not preclude the use of both. We certainly have the right to speak our minds, but with that right comes the obligation to be rational and, at least, aware of the specific context of the discussion.

A man fighting for his life, and don't be naive, Roy's condition is nothing short of that, dictates that the deleted response should have been posted at another discussion.

Michael Bratisax 8 years, 5 months ago

As a disabled military vet, I have to agree with w/BlownJay. There should be no forum where the 1st Amendment is censored.

YouTube has refused to remove the anti-Mohammed video and the courts ruled in their favor.

I'm sure some of you remember the National Endowment of the Arts displaying the Crucifix in urine. This was paid for by taxpayer money. As much as I hated it, the First Amendment gave him the right to display it.

Michael Bratisax 8 years, 5 months ago

Not injured in the line of duty. Stolen Valor is for punks!

Ron Franklin 8 years, 5 months ago

You have a good point, Konkey. It's their business to do business how they see most appropriate. I wish I would have saved all of the comments that were being made in 2008 while KU prepared to play Roy. They were as bad as what wats said, and they sure the heck were not removed from this website.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 5 months ago

BlownJay, you do make a valid point, but it's just my personal policy not to kick a man when he is down. It's certainly wats choice to do otherwise. If I recall, in 2008, Roy wasn't facing a life-threatening illness.

REHawk 8 years, 5 months ago

I agree with you, kD. Yesterday, one of my comments was censored and removed. I referred to another Big 12 team as a jawbreaker of a program. In retrospect, the hostile specificity of that comment was over the top, probably deserving of a few slams from other posters. But my right to free speech was peremptorily stomped.

Jack Wilson 8 years, 5 months ago

I love the debate. James Madison would be proud.

I guess that my preference would be that the LJW be a bit more light on the censorship button at times. But I have to give them credit. There have been some debates on topics that may "offend", and they permit the debate. I think here it was just a time and place thing. As Oak said, a man fighting for his life potentially isn't the best time to attack him. I bet that post on another thread without the backdrop of a cancer fight wouldn't have even caused a blip.

This line thought started with BlownJay .. I tend to think that debate is better, and hitting the censorship button only in emergency is the best tact. It is their site, and konkey's right, the First Amendment doesn't apply, but as a journalistic venture, it seems like the best approach would be to hit that censorship button only when absolutely necessary. It's that "absolutely necessary" thing that is a bit tricky.

milwaukeeJAYHAWK 8 years, 5 months ago

Right to free speech means that the government can't stop you from saying what you want.

It has nothing to do with what websites decide is allowed or not.

It's their website, quit being a crybaby.

REHawk 8 years, 5 months ago

Nice supercilious choice of closing noun. The very type of post which would lead other posters to respect your efforts to make stable points.

Michael Bratisax 8 years, 5 months ago

Just seems wrong for a news outlet to censor comments since Freedom of the Press is ALSO protected by the First Amendment.

Can't you find another politician to put to a recall vote?

Charles Shirley 8 years, 5 months ago

No, BlownJay, LJW should not be, as you state, "ashamed of" themselves. That's silly. You are whining about your, as you say, "First [sic] Ammendment Right"!!! Huh? Your First Amendment rights are not being violated by what LJW did. Wrong. The First Amendment only applies when the government attempts to shut you up. LJW is not the government. Get a hold of yourself. LJW owns this website and they made a simple business decision to shut down the moronic, inappropriate comments of one of the posters on this discussion board. It is well within their rights and I totally support their action. You may not like but this tough decisions do make this place a great place to hang and discuss KU Sports. I like hanging out here without the over-the-top, inappropriate comments. Seriously, if you are going to complain at least get your facts straight. The First Amendment does not apply so don't refer to it and, of course, suck it up.

Charles Shirley 8 years, 5 months ago

Once again, free speech is not the issue. The government is not removing the comments of BlownJay. The LJW is. What part of that basic premise don't you understand, drgnslayr?

gchawk 8 years, 5 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.

Robin Smith 8 years, 5 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.

Mike Gammill 8 years, 5 months ago

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

Sally Presson 8 years, 5 months ago

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

John Miller 8 years, 5 months ago

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

notjustbread 8 years, 5 months ago

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

jaybate 8 years, 5 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.

Todd Mobray 8 years, 5 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.

imzcount 8 years, 5 months ago

Not at all upset when he left KU, and couldn't have been happier when we beat his butt twice. Get well soon my fellow man.

Michael Bratisax 8 years, 5 months ago

I was more mad at Dean Smith, an ex-Jayhawk as opposed to a former Jayhawk IMHO, than I was with Roy. I really thought when Brad Daugherty took over at UNC, Roy would coach at Kansas until he retired. I know this was not an easy decision for him but in the end his alma mater was the deciding factor.

I wish Dean Smith cared about his alma mater.

okiedave 8 years, 5 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.

Brad Miller 8 years, 5 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.

milwaukeeJAYHAWK 8 years, 5 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.

texashawk10 8 years, 5 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.

Lance Hobson 8 years, 5 months ago

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

MrPilot 8 years, 5 months ago

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

gatorhawk45 8 years, 5 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)

texashawk10 8 years, 5 months ago

The ads you see on this site at the top of articles are generated by which sites you visit. My most common one right now is for single game tickets for Baylor football because I was looking into going to the game and I was checking out the price difference from Baylor's website compared to buying tickets through KU's site.

stm62 8 years, 5 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!

TexasHawk44 8 years, 5 months ago

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

Janet Olin 8 years, 5 months ago

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

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