Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Kansas gains another Chalmers

Father of freshman joins Self's coaching staff


As father of a McDonald's All-American, Ronnie Chalmers knows rival basketball fans will be screaming "Package deal" following his hiring Tuesday as Kansas University's director of basketball operations.

Chalmers, head coach at Bartlett High in Anchorage, Alaska, the past five years where he and son/KU signee Mario Chalmers won a pair of state titles, says that couldn't be farther from the truth.

"People will think it was a package deal. It wasn't. I know it's not the case," Ronnie Chalmers told the Journal-World on Tuesday in a phone interview from Anchorage.

"Mario's decision to attend Kansas was solely based on Mario. My wife and I always kicked around that we'd relocate where our son was at after she retired from the school district this spring.

"Two years ago, we thought he was going to North Carolina. We bought a house in Charlotte. He decided to visit Kansas, loved Kansas, and we're trying to sell the house in Charlotte now," he added with a laugh.

Chalmers - he takes over for Danny Manning, who will return to his former title of director of student-athlete development - first spoke to KU coach Bill Self about a possible job long after Mario Chalmers committed to KU, just in the past several weeks.

"It came up in conversation that my wife and I were contemplating relocating to Kansas," Chalmers said.

"We had some feelers out there, and coach Self said, 'We may have an opening.' It's exciting to me that it worked out. This is a great opportunity to get my foot in the door at the college level and follow my son and be part of one of the best basketball programs in the country."

Self said he was thrilled to add Chalmers, who compiled a 109-28 record at Bartlett High. Prior to that, Chalmers spent 22 years in the Air Force, living in Alaska the last 24 years.

"Through this year I have had a chance to get to know Ronnie on a personal and professional basis and have been very impressed with his knowledge and ability to work with people," Self said.

"He has a long military background and excellent basketball portfolio, and we felt he would be a great addition to our staff filling a position that was void this past year."

Manning actually had duties as director of student-athlete development for much of the past school year.

Former Jayhawk Brett Ballard also remains on the administrative staff as an administrative assistant/video coordinator.

The elder Chalmers, who also worked as a basketball coach in the Air Force, says it'll be difficult to leave Anchorage after nearly two and a half decades.

"We have mixed emotions. We've made a lot of friends, close friends," Ronnie Chalmers said. "We're not saying goodbye, we're saying, 'So long, see you later.'"

Ronnie Chalmers said he expected to continue to have a close relationship with his son, Kansas' future point guard.

"I think mentally it will help him, having his family close to him," Chalmers said.

"He will still have to get in the gym and work. There will be no special favors because his dad is on the coaching staff.

"I'm not a head coach any more, I'm not on the front line, but I can sit back and advise and watch my son develop, too, and that's exciting," he concluded.


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