CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The University of Kansas received permission Wednesday to speak with Illinois basketball coach Bill Self about the coaching vacancy opened when Roy Williams left for North Carolina earlier this week.
"Kansas has contacted us, and apparently will be contacting Bill," said Kent Brown, Illinois sports information director.
Kansas officials did not immediately return calls to The Associated Press. Chancellor Robert Hemenway has said the school plans to hire a new coach quickly.
Self left Illinois Wednesday morning for a long-planned family vacation in Florida. He did not immediately return a call to his mobile phone.
"It's really Bill's situation at this point," Brown said. "We are in a waiting period until one party or the other would indicate what their plans are."
Illinois athletic director Ron Guenther did not return a call seeking comment.
Self is reported to be at the top of Kansas' list of candidates to succeed Williams, whose legacy includes 14 straight NCAA tournament appearances and four Final Fours. Williams resigned at Kansas on Monday for the head coaching job at his alma mater, North Carolina.
Self was a graduate assistant coach at Kansas in the 1985-86 season. He is a native of Edmond, Okla., and has roots in the Big 12 Conference going back to his playing days at Oklahoma State.
Brown said granting permission to speak with Self was never an issue. "That's a courtesy," he said.
Self said Tuesday that he wasn't sure how he would respond to Kansas.
"If they do call, I may say, 'Let's visit,' or after talking a few minutes I may say, 'I don't feel it.' I certainly wouldn't mislead anyone," Self said.
A few minutes later, at the team's postseason banquet, Self told 700 Illini supporters that he is happy at Illinois, but didn't rule out a move.
"This is a great, great program," Self said. "I don't know what the future holds, but I am excited to be your coach."
Self signed a five-year contract extension in December that will pay him $900,000 a year if he stays at Illinois. It also provides a $500,000 annuity if he stays until the deal expires after the 2007-08 season, bringing the total to $5 million.
The contract also contains a buyout clause, calling for payment of $100,000 for each year remaining on the contract, Brown said. If Self leaves before next season, the buyout would be $500,000.
Administrators and fans at Illinois make no secret of their love for Self, whose teams are 78-24 in his three seasons in Champaign. About 100 members of the student fan club "Orange Krush" formed a corridor outside the banquet hall Tuesday night, carrying signs saying such things as "Bill is the Best," and they chanted "We want Bill Self" as he walked through them to enter the building.
"Overwhelming, pretty cool," Self said of the reception.
Inside, Guenther praised Self as "an absolute stud" as a coach and called Self and his wife, Cindy, "the best first basketball family" at any university in the country.