The University of Kansas men’s basketball team will be led by its top assistant coach for the foreseeable future as its head coach recovers from an unspecified “illness.”
Assistant Coach Norm Roberts is expected to lead the nationally ranked team not only for Thursday’s game in the Big 12 tournament but also possibly for the NCAA tournament as the Jayhawks look to defend their national championship from last season.
Kansas provided limited information about the health status of head coach Bill Self and why he won’t be on the sidelines against West Virginia University on Thursday afternoon.
“Kansas Men’s Basketball Coach Bill Self will miss today’s Big 12 Tournament game as he recovers from an illness,” the university told CBS Sports in a statement. “Assistant Coach Norm Roberts will serve as the acting head coach. Self is doing well and receiving great care at the University of Kansas Health System.”
Roberts’ promotion to acting head coach seemingly makes him the first Black person to lead the University of Kansas men’s basketball team on an interim basis in the program’s 125-year history — again. He previously enjoyed that same status earlier this season when Self was suspended for four games after an FBI probe determined the head coach committed a series of various violations. During those four games back in November, Roberts led the Jayhawks to a perfect record.
Who is Norm Roberts?
Roberts, 57, has a wealth of basketball coaching experience to draw upon as he embarks on his new role. But it shouldn’t be all that new, as Roberts has been by Self’s side as an assistant coach for many seasons, including two separate stints at Kansas.
The New York City native has been an assistant coach on Self’s staff since 1997, when Self was hired as the head coach at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. When Self was later hired to be the head coach at the University of Tulsa, Roberts became an assistant coach there, too. When the University of Illinois hired Self in 2000, Roberts was also included in the apparent package deal. And when Kansas came calling Self three years later, Roberts signed on again.
But in 2004, after proving himself as a trusty and savvy assistant for one of the consistently top programs in the country, Roberts was hired by St. John’s University to be the head coach of the Red Storm in his hometown.
In the five seasons that Roberts coached at St. John’s, however, just one of his teams reached the postseason as he struggled to revive the storied basketball program. Roberts’ tenure at St. John’s came to an end in 2010 after the lone team he led to a postseason tournament barely lost 73-71 to the University of Memphis in the first round of the NIT.
Roberts was quickly hired by the University of Florida as an assistant coach in 2011 when the Gators advanced all the way to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.
But the following season, Roberts was back by Self’s side as an assistant coach at Kansas, where he’s been ever since. Now, poised to lead a highly talented team to a potentially deep run in both the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments, depending on how quickly Self recovers.
What happened to Bill Self?
Unverified reports across social media on Thursday claimed that Self, 60, suffered a heart attack. But a sports journalist with KSN News, an NBC affiliate in Wichita, reported that it was not clear if Self had a heart attack. Instead, Zack Martin reported that Self “suffered a vascular event” on Wednesday. Martin said Self was “recovering.”
Self has been the head basketball coach at the University of Kansas for the past 20 years, winning national coach of the year honors on multiple occasions while leading his teams to 16-straight regular season conference championship titles, including this current season. He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017.
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Norm Roberts Named Kansas’ Acting Head Basketball Coach Amid Bill Self ‘Illness’ was originally published on newsone.com
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