LAWRENCE, Kan. — Roy Williams, agonizing over whether to leave Kansas for North Carolina, plans to discuss his future with the athletic director who took a chance on him as the Jayhawks' college basketball coach.
Williams, who has been to the Final Four twice with Kansas but has not won it, is trying to decide whether to stay with a promising Jayhawks team or go home to North Carolina, where he spent years as an assistant under Dean Smith.
He has said he will announce a decision on or before Friday, which is the last day before the summer recruiting period begins.
Williams returned from a vacation at his South Carolina beach home Wednesday night, denying reports that he had accepted a multiyear contract to coach North Carolina.
He had meetings scheduled Thursday with Kansas athletic director Bob Frederick, who took criticism from Kansas boosters for hiring a no-name coach but has seen the Kansas program flourish under Williams, and chancellor Robert Hemenway.
"The last seven days have been the most difficult of my life, but I've got some really great, great options," Williams said as he arrived at Kansas City International Airport.
Kansas desperately wants to keep Williams, who is torn between his ties to North Carolina and Smith and the powerful basketball tradition of the Jayhawks and Allen Fieldhouse, where Wilt Chamberlain made an emotional return to see his jersey retired in 1998.
"My stomach has been in knots since last Thursday night, but I've been through this before," said Frederick, who saw Larry Brown come and go after the Jayhawks won the national championship in 1988.
In Lawrence, Williams appeared visibly emotional while reading signs and posters that fans posted on and around Allen Fieldhouse, imploring him to stay.
"I think he's still struggling with a decision," Frederick said. "He indicated to the chancellor and me he wouldn't make a decision until we had a chance to talk."
Williams left Saturday for his South Carolina vacation home and met with North Carolina officials in the past few days.
Frederick said he disagrees with media reports that Williams has already agreed to accept a lucrative deal to replace Bill Guthridge, who resigned as North Carolina coach last week.
"I don't feel that. But I realize obviously the North Carolina media feel very strongly about that," Frederick said. "It's clear they think the decision's already been made."
A North Carolina native, Williams coached under Smith from 1978-88. At Smith's suggestion, Frederick hired Williams in 1988, and the result has been almost unmatched success, including two Final Four appearances and seven conference championships.
With a 329-82 record, Williams has won more games in his first 12 seasons than any other coach in NCAA history.
"He has loyalty to North Carolina as a result of his 10 years of coaching there," Frederick said. "He has loyalty to the University of Kansas and to his players. He's struggling between those two loyalties."
Williams' players, who have been promised they would learn his decision ahead of everyone else, were getting impatient.
"I have no gut feeling either way," sophomore forward Nick Collison said. "I have no idea when we'll hear. Coach is honest. He'll tell us first. But I really don't even want to think about it."
Collison, Drew Gooden and Kirk Hinrich are part of Williams' last recruiting class that was considered one of the best in the nation and will form the nucleus of this year's team.