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Tuesday, April 15, 2003

KU coaches sad to see Roy go

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It wasn't just his players or Kansas University fans that were hit hard by the devastating news of Roy Williams' departure to North Carolina -- fellow Jayhawk coaches were nearly in denial from the decision.

"Oh my God," said Kansas women's basketball coach Marian Washington after learning of Williams' choice to coach at Carolina from media members. "Oh, God. That's sad. I'm sure a lot of people are disappointed."

Jayhawk softball coach Tracy Bunge said she wasn't stunned, but still sad for KU's athletic department.

"I wasn't shocked because everyone knew it was a possibility with his extraordinary ties at his alma mater, with coach (Dean) Smith and his family," Bunge said. "I wasn't shocked. More disappointed for Kansas, but happy for coach."

Bunge, who had worked with Williams for seven years and credits him as a major supporter for all Jayhawk athletic programs, said she will miss their personal interactions.

"I'm disappointed," she said, "because of the amount of respect I have for him and the joy of watching his basketball team and having the opportunity to work with him.

"In that aspect I'm disappointed for Kansas fans. I think he was one of the best coaches in the business, and I wish him well."

Volleyball coach Ray Bechard not only shared Washington and Bunge's personal sentiments for Williams, but said the financial benefits he brought were unprecedented.

"Here's a guy who raised all the money for that facility," Bechard said of the Horejsi Family Athletics Center -- the home of his volleyball team.

"And then he said, 'Do what you want with it, make it a volleyball home.' Our team has a great facility because of that.

"He could have said: 'This is my house and I'll let you in there when I see fit.' But he basically threw us the keys and said, 'Here run with it.'"

Bechard couldn't hide his feelings for Williams and even said he could have tried harder to influence Williams' decision.

"You always think: 'Well is there something we could have said?'" Bechard said. "But I just think it came down to his gut feeling about what he needed to do.

"He's a special guy and I hope he wins it every year that he's there. Because it will be a different, new Carolina with him there. There's no question about that."

After a few moments of trying to collect herself, Washington still was in wonder.

"It's a tremendous loss for this university," she said.

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