Congratulations to Roy Williams!
Those who know coach Williams and appreciate all the good things he did for the Kansas University basketball program -- and the university -- during his 15 years as the Jayhawks' coach and all those who appreciate what he has done for college basketball are thrilled he and his North Carolina team won the NCAA national basketball title Monday night in St. Louis.
When Williams left Lawrence for the North Carolina job, there naturally were Jayhawk fans who were disappointed or angry -- even really mad. They didn't want to lose the great coach and fine individual. Some, who had been strong supporters of Williams when he was leading the team to national prominence quickly turned on the coach. They could not say anything positive about the man who had done so much for the university. They enjoyed telling friends they cheered for whatever team the Tar Heels were playing against.
Never mind that Williams played by the rules, recruited team members that were good players and good young men and was extremely generous in his support of the university.
He was a great asset for KU, as well as for the state of Kansas.
The animosity among some has continued since Williams left Lawrence. Whether North Carolina's victory over Illinois Monday night will put an end to this unfortunate situation remains to be seen. Williams has displayed class in his handling of the matter. He knows that much of what is being said about him, both on and off campus, is not true and has displayed class while others have not.
Now that four seniors Williams recruited for KU will be graduating this spring -- Wayne Simien, Keith Langford, Michael Lee and Aaron Miles -- he is not likely to have quite as strong an attachment to the KU basketball program. He and his North Carolina fans are looking forward to many more years of Williams being the Tar Heels coach. His happy days at KU will be further in the past.
It is only natural he was interested in the KU players he recruited, and it is difficult to understand why he has been criticized for visiting on the phone with a couple of the players several times in the last two years.
All this is past tense. Now is the time to look ahead.
KU has an outstanding coach in Bill Self. He has compiled a winning record, both as a coach and as a person, in his previous coaching jobs, and there is every reason to believe he will continue to build on KU's record as one of the nation's outstanding basketball programs.
Genuine KU fans should continue to be supportive, proud and appreciative of Roy Williams and wish him continued success. However, KU basketball fans also should do what they can to help Self win a national championship. He's a good person and coach and conducts himself in a manner that reflects well on the university and the state.
Self deserves the full support of those who wish the best for the basketball program as well as the university. He doesn't need the superficial support of those who talk out of both sides of their mouths and whose loyalty depends on what way the wind is blowing.
Coach Williams is sincere in saying it is possible for a coach to love two schools, KU and North Carolina, and it is great he continues to have this strong affection for Lawrence and KU. He deserves thanks for all he has done for the city and the school.
Today is a new chapter.
Self will be starting the 2005-06 season with a team composed primarily of his own recruits. There's no reason the personable Self cannot maintain, and perhaps even improve, the Jayhawks' national reputation as one of the nation's premier basketball programs. He needs and deserves the support of all true fans.