Kansas basketball coach Bill Self said Monday that his predecessor, longtime KU coach Roy Williams, will be in attendance at Tuesday’s top-15 battle between No. 9 Kansas and No. 15 Iowa State.
Williams will attend the game as a fan with his wife Wanda. It will mark his first time at a KU game in Allen Fieldhouse since he left for North Carolina following the 2002-03 season.
Williams was back in the building on Oct. 27, 2014 to join Self, Larry Brown and Ted Owens for a celebration of the venue’s 60th anniversary. And he made waves with folks at UNC in 2008 by wearing a Jayhawk sticker and sitting in the stands for the 2008 national title game when Kansas defeated Memphis.
The opportunity to come to this game surfaced when Williams announced his retirement from coaching on April 1, 2021, exactly 14 years after Williams was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.
Self said Williams reached out to a couple of guys within the KU athletic department a couple of weeks ago to inquire about attending a game.
“He’s more than welcome,” Self said. “And (I think) it’s a given that our fans will pay homage and tribute him when he’s announced the way that he deserves for the 15 great years of service he gave this institution.”
After taking over at Kansas following Brown’s departure after the 1988 national title, the little-known assistant out of North Carolina led the Jayhawks to four Final Fours and two national title games from 1988-2003. He guided the Jayhawks to an overall record of 418-101 and his .805 winning percentage ranks second all-time to Self (.817) at Kansas.
At UNC, where Williams coached his alma mater from 2003-2021, the former KU coach won 485 games and three national titles in 18 seasons.
Self said Monday that Williams’ responsibilities and requirements with running the Tar Heels were the biggest reason he had not been back to Lawrence for a game until this season.
“As a head coach, or a coach in our profession, it’s hard to go back and watch somebody else play when you’re coaching a team,” Self said. “So, there’s nothing negative with that.
Upon retiring, Williams gushed about his time at Kansas, the honor of coaching the Jayhawks and the people he met and coached while at KU.
“This is the first (game back),” Self said. “But hopefully it won’t be the last and he’ll be very much like Coach Brown and Coach Owens (and) always feel welcome to come back whenever he wants to.”