Former Kansas University basketball coach Roy Williams underwent a robotic partial nephrectomy at UNC Hospitals Wednesday morning to remove a tumor from his right kidney.
Dr. Eric Wallen, professor of urology at UNC, and co-surgeon Dr. Mathew Raynor led the surgical team, which took three and a half hours to complete the operation. Doctors discovered the presence of the tumor during a physical earlier this month.
Dr. Wallen said Williams, 62, should be able to coach when the Tar Heels begin practice for the 2012-13 season on Saturday, Oct. 13. Williams may have a second surgery to remove a tumor from his left kidney at a later date and could be sidelined for a few practices.
“The surgery went well and according to plan,” said Dr. Wallen. “Coach Williams did great. I fully expect him to coach this season and for years to come. He could miss some practice time if we perform another procedure sometime in October, but he would be able to resume his coaching duties prior to the start of the regular season.”
Doctors have not determined whether the tumor removed Wednesday was cancerous, and that may impact whether Williams has to have the second surgery, a team spokesman told ESPN. Sources told the Journal-World it was suspected the tumor on the right kidney was cancerous. There is no follow-up chemo or radiation for kidney cancer if the tumor turns out to be cancerous.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with coach Williams and his family for a full recovery," said UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham. “Obviously his health and prognosis are my greatest concerns. He's in great hands with the medical staff at UNC Hospitals. The basketball team is also in outstanding hands with Steve Robinson, CB McGrath, Hubert Davis and Joe Holladay. As coach Williams frequently says, he has the best staff in the country and I know they will do an excellent job as coach Williams recuperates. We will be ready for his return as soon as he is able to do so, but I have stressed to him that he returns only when he has been given the medical approval and he is ready to do that. Hopefully that will be soon and for a long, long time to come.”
Williams, who was head coach at KU for 15 years, is entering his 10th season as the head coach of the Tar Heels and 25th as a college head coach. He is a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, has led Carolina to national championships in 2005 and 2009, another Final Four in 2008, Elite Eights in 2007, 2011 and 2012, five NCAA Tournament No. 1 seeds, seven Associated Press Top 10 final rankings, six ACC regular-season titles, two ACC Tournament crowns, five 30-win seasons and developed 13 first-round NBA Draft picks.
ESPN, Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News and Fox Sports named him the Coach of the Decade for 2000-2009. Williams led Kansas and Carolina to 33 NCAA Tournament wins in the 2000s, eight more than any other coach.