Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self will be inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame tonight at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
Self in 20 seasons as a head coach has a 507-164 career record, including a 300-59 mark in 10 seasons at KU. He led the Jayhawks to the 2008 NCAA championship and a national runner-up finish in 2012. Also, KU has won nine straight conference championships.
“It’s a great honor,” Self said. “I’m really proud of my state and respect all the people in different sports and different areas that have contributed to the rich sports history of Oklahoma.”
Self, 50, will be inducted today along with Wayne Baughman (University of Oklahoma wrestling), Clay Bennett (owner of the Oklahoma City Thunder), Nadia Comaneci (Olympic gold medal gymnast), LeRoy Gutowski (Oklahoma City University and NFL standout), Jimmy Harris (OU football) and John Henry Ward (Oklahoma State two-sport All-American).
Self, who grew up in Edmond, Okla., was selected as the Oklahoma High School Basketball Player of the Year in 1981 while at Edmond Memorial High. Born in Okmulgee, Self went on to play at Oklahoma State under coach Paul Hansen from 1982-85. While at OSU, he was a four-year letter-winner and was an All-Big Eight freshman selection.
Self began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at KU for the 1985-86 season under Larry Brown. He then returned to his alma mater and served as assistant coach at OSU under Leonard Hamilton and Eddie Sutton from 1986-93. Self’s first head coaching job was at Oral Roberts in 1993-94. He moved across town to Tulsa in 1997-98. He led the Golden Hurricane to an NCAA Tournament Elite Eight appearance in 2000.
In 2000-01, Self took over at Illinois, directing the Illini to two Big Ten titles and an NCAA Tournament Elite Eight appearance in 2001.
Self came to Kansas in 2003-04 and in 10 seasons has led the Jayhawks to nine straight Big 12 regular-season titles, six Big 12 postseason championships. He’s four-time Big 12 Coach of the Year (2006, 2009, 2011 and 2012) and has twice been named the national coach of the year (2009 and 2012).
He will be introduced tonight by his dad, Bill Self Sr.
Self’s dad coached Morris High to the 1966 Class B girls state basketball title when Bill was 4 years old. Shortly after that, the elder Self became a school superintendent and worked 27 years for the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s the ultimate,” Bill Self Sr. told the Oklahoman. “This is a different type of rejoicing. You don’t jump up and down like you do winning a national championship. I know with Bill and our entire family this means a lot. Not only is he being inducted but look at who he is being inducted with. The other six inductees are outstanding that he will be on the stage with. It’s such an honor. It’s an honor for me and the entire family. Others helped him along the way but Bill did this on his own. I’m so proud of him.”
Self told the Journal-World that partly because of pressure on his dad at work, he wasn’t sure he wanted to be a coach.
“I said, ‘I am not going to coach. I don’t want to coach. I see how time consuming it is with my relationship with my father and all the coaches he was surrounded with and the stress. I’m going to go into business and make a lot of money doing who knows what?’
“I got my degree in business (at OSU). I got the opportunity to come here (KU) as graduate assistant. When I got here, it was over. I knew there was nothing else I could do to be as happy as trying to coach guys.”
The younger Self said his dad’s job with the OSSAA was “a thankless job. You only deal with problems every day,” Self said. “In 25 years I don’t know anybody came up to my dad (and said), ‘You know what? You are doing great. The officials are great. I’m glad you declared that kid ineligible.’ You are talking from band to all the sports, all the activities, scrambling around. When you are in charge of basketball you are doing the state tournament, assigning officials to games. That’s a pretty big job. I don’t know anybody tells you that you are doing it well. It’s like coaching. If you don’t win, if you get your butt beat, you don’t hear it was a well-coached game.”
Self, who last week was on a golf vacation to Scotland, told the Oklahoman his dad will “enjoy it. My friends and family (mom, Margaret; sister Shelly; wife, Cindy; children Tyler and Lauren) will get a big kick out of him doing it. It’s pretty cool because no person, no matter who I’ve been around, has been more positive or a bigger influence on me than my father.”