UNC's Roy Williams undergoes surgery for tumor
Posted September 19, 2012
Updated September 20, 2012
Chapel Hill, N.C. — University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill basketball coach Roy Williams underwent surgery Wednesday morning to have a tumor removed from his right kidney, the school confirmed.
There is a possibility that Williams, 62, may have to have a second procedure on his left kidney in October. The university said Williams' prognosis is good and he was expected to be up and moving following his Wednesday procedure.
The tumors were discovered during a routine physical earlier this month. It is unknown whether the tumors were cancerous.
Wednesday’s procedure was a minimally invasive robotic partial nephrectomy overseen by Dr. Eric M. Wallen Director of Laparoscopic Surgery, professor of urology and robotic surgery specialist at UNC.
“The surgery went well and according to plan,” said Wallen. “I fully expect him to coach this season and for years to come.”
Williams is expected to be with the team for their first practice on Oct. 13. UNC is scheduled to begin its season with "Late Night with Roy" in less than a month on Oct. 12. The Tar Heels are slated to play an exhibition against Shaw on Oct. 26 before opening up the regular season on Nov. 9 against Gardner-Webb.
"He (Williams) 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,” Wallen said.
Williams informed the team in a late-night meeting in the locker room Tuesday.
"It was heartbreaking for me," said senior guard Dexter Strickland. "I look at him as a father figure. I’ve been here for four years, so me and him have a great relationship together, and it was just heartbreaking to hear that he has those problems."
Junior guard Reggie Bullock also cited Williams as a father figure.
“It’s just like hearing that my father was having surgery or anything like that," Bullock said. "He’s a father figure in my life. It shocked me when he told me he was having surgery, because I thought he was just a special person, nothing would ever happen to him."
Bubba Cunningham, UNC Director of Athletics, said that Williams' health is the primary concern and that should he be forced to miss time, the team would be well covered.
"The basketball team is also in outstanding hands with Steve Robinson, CB McGrath, Hubert Davis and Joe Holladay," Cunningham said. "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."
Robinson, who has been with Williams for 18 years at both North Carolina and Kansas, said that he doesn't expect the program to be disrupted in any way if Williams were to miss time. He did expect Williams to maybe change his approach a little bit.
“He’ll find out today, after coming out of surgery and getting out of the other situations, that he’ll have to slow down a little bit, but for the most part I think he expects to go at a full tilt and at a fast pace," Robinson said. Coach is coach and he’s going to be anxious. He can’t sit still very long, and we just want him to take it slow and make sure that he has full health.”
Williams has been active this off season in recruiting, including making a visit to Texas just last week where he targeted top-talent Julius Randle.
Williams has dealt with vertigo, an inner ear condition that impacts balance, since 2007. Although it hasn’t caused Williams to miss any games, the vertigo symptoms have forced him to sit down at times during games.
In August, Williams was one of the featured speakers and honored for his work with Coaches vs. Cancer at an American Cancer Society breakfast.
Duke assistant coach Steve Wojciechowski tweeted Wednesday afternoon support for Williams saying, "Duke basketball family wishing UNC Coach Roy Williams a speedy and complete recovery from his surgery."
Williams, an Asheville native, came to Chapel Hill prior to the 2003-04 season after coaching the Kansas Jayhawks from 1988-2003. In his time with the Tar Heels, he has led the team to two NCAA National Championship (2005, 2009), four Final Fours and has captured six ACC regular-season titles.
“I don’t care if coach comes back with a long list of things to fix," McDonald said. "As long as he comes back, I’m grateful.”