Self likely will coach Jayhawks

Monday, April 21, 2003

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Bill Self arrived on Kansas' campus and joined basketball players for a meal Sunday amid reports that he agreed to leave Illinois and coach the Jayhawks.

Kansas scheduled a news conference for today at 1 p.m. to "introduce its men's basketball coach."

A source within the athletic department, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the news conference was scheduled for today because Self did not want an announcement on Easter.

The 40-year-old Self, whose first college coaching job was as an assistant at Kansas under then-coach Larry Brown in the 1985-86 season, flew to Lawrence on Sunday, accompanied by interim Kansas athletic director Drue Jennings. Self dined with the Jayhawks' players and school officials at the athletic center. Reporters were asked to leave the building, and Jennings and chancellor Robert Hemenway both declined comment when they left.

Kansas received permission last week to speak with Self about replacing Roy Williams, who left to coach North Carolina last week.

ESPN.com and the Web sites for The Kansas City Star, The Lawrence Journal-World, and The News-Gazette of Champaign, Ill. -- all citing anonymous sources -- reported that Self had accepted the job.

Illinois sports information director Kent Brown said Self talked to players Saturday night, but Brown declined to elaborate. He said Self also has spoken recently to the parents of some his recruits.

The athletic department offices and basketball practice gym on Illinois' Champaign campus were locked Sunday. But one player, speaking outside the practice gym, told television reporters that he was resigned to Self leaving.

"I talked to him (Saturday) night, and he said the deal was in the making," freshman Deron Williams said. "It was a hard decision for him to make. He had to make the decision that was best for his family."

Self went 78-24 in three seasons at Illinois and led the team to the NCAA tournament each year, reaching the final eight in 2001.

His teams shared the Big Ten regular-season title in 2001 and 2002, making him the second conference coach to accomplish the feat. This season, the Illini finished second in the league standings but won the tournament championship.

Self's intensity on the bench and affable nature off the court made him a fan favorite at Illinois, which gave the coach a five-year contract extension in December worth $900,000 a season.

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