KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kansas coach Bill Self will miss the Big 12 Tournament after going to the emergency room Wednesday night for what doctors called “a standard procedure,” and it’s uncertain whether he will be back for the NCAA Tournament.
Dr. Steve Stites, the chief medical officer at the University of Kansas Health System, said Self did not have a heart attack, which some outlets had reported, but that he remained a patient Thursday. Stites also did not describe the nature or extent of the procedure, though Self is expected to make a full recovery.
“We didn’t really let the guys know until this morning because nothing was concrete what was going on,” said Kansas assistant Norm Roberts, who led the No. 3 Jayhawks to a 78-61 win over West Virginia in the quarterfinal round.
“Coach is doing good,” Roberts added. “I talked to him on the phone (after the game). He’s doing well. He already wants to watch film and all of that. He’s doing well. He’s doing better.”
Kansas officials announced that Self was ill about five hours before tipoff Thursday and that Roberts would be the acting coach. It’s a role he filled earlier in the season when Self served a school-imposed four-game suspension.
The Jayhawks are the defending Big 12 Tournament champions and are trying to secure a No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament, where they will attempt to defend the national championship they won last April.
“Just come together through it all. Coach Self obviously would want that,” Kansas guard Gradey Dick said. “A lot of what he preaches with us is next man up, and in this case it was coach. And it’s kind of a little similar to the start of the season. Obviously a little more serious now with Coach Self but we’re hearing it’s all good.”
The 60-year-old Hall of Fame coach led Kansas to the regular-season championship in the toughest conference in the nation this season, despite losing several key players from the team that beat North Carolina for the national title last April.
He was present Wednesday for a shootaround at T-Mobile Center and appeared healthy. He met with reporters for about 20 minutes outside the locker room and said his team was ready for another March run.
“We’ve talked about we’re going to Kansas City to try to put ourselves in position to win this thing, but knowing we better take one game at a time,” Self said Wednesday. “I’ve put the emphasis on, ‘Let’s go play our best.’ What the (Big 12) tournament does, it can validate what your regular season’s been. And this is an opportunity to validate it.”
Self is 581-130 during his two decades with Kansas, and is 788-235 in his 30 seasons as a head coach, including stops at Oral Roberts, Tulsa and Illinois. He’s led the Jayhawks to a pair of national championships, beating Memphis for the title in 2008, and the regular-season Big 12 title was his 17th in 20 seasons in Lawrence.
With the retirement of Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim on Wednesday, Self climbed up the list of the winningest active coaches in men’s college basketball behind Bob Huggins, John Calipari and Rick Pitino.
“Coach Self has always treated me very well. Really respect him and respect their program,” said Iowa State coach TJ Otzelberger, whose team will face the Jayhawks in Friday night’s Big 12 Tournament semifinals. “Certainly want to wish him the best. I texted him earlier today and let him know we’re keeping him in our thoughts.”