Three days after winning the NCAA championship, Kansas coach Bill Self said no thanks to Oklahoma State, his alma mater, and agreed to a lucrative contract extension that could keep him at Kansas for the rest of his career.
“Home called,” Self said. “And we love home. But this is home now.”
The 45-year-old Self, an Oklahoma native who played for the Cowboys and was an assistant coach there at the beginning of his career, met with Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder Wednesday night for about two hours.
After conferring with Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins for several hours on Thursday, Self called Holder and told him of his decision.
“There was never serious interest on our part in leaving the University of Kansas,” said Self, who has won 142 games, four Big 12 titles and a national championship in five highly successful seasons with the Jayhawks.
“But there was serious interest in listening and helping Oklahoma State in a way that would put their basketball program in the position they want it to be in. We visited and slept on it and came to the conclusion that I felt all along that the time is right for my family to be in Lawrence, Kan., and lead this program, hopefully, to bigger and better things in the future.”
Perkins, at a news conference with Self and chancellor Robert Hemenway, declined to give details of the deal. But it will include raises for assistant coaches and an extensive upgrading of the school’s aging facilities.
There had been reports that Oklahoma State booster T. Boone Pickens, who has given the Cowboys $165 million, was prepared to throw a megabuck offer at Self. But Self said no dollar figure was mentioned in his conversation with Holder.
“Bill is going to be compensated at the highest level,” Perkins said. “Bill and I have agreed in principle that he will be our coach for many years to come. The details and money and length and other things will be finalized over the next few weeks. We will give it to you as soon as we have it complete.
“The good news for us is Bill’s staying and we’re glad to have him.”
Self has three years left on a contract that pays him $1.375 million annually.
“I don’t know what the big deal is, to be honest,” Self said in the typically self-effacing manner that has endeared him to Kansas’ rabid basketball fans.
“These last three weeks, four weeks, have been an absolute whirlwind. I don’t know if a guy deserves to have as much fun as I’ve had.”
Self’s Jayhawks won a school-record 37 games and beat Memphis for the national title, coming back from a nine-point deficit in the final 2 minutes in dramatic fashion.
Self’s new deal is likely to make him one of college basketball’s highest-paid coaches. Florida coach Billy Donovan is believed to be the highest among coaches at public universities, after he signed a six-year contract worth $3.5 million per year in 2007. Texas’ Rick Barnes is the highest-paid coach in the Big 12 at $2 million a year.
But Self had made it clear all along that he wanted to upgrade the facilities to keep up with what he called “the arms race” in big-time collegiate athletics. The Jayhawks are completing a $31 million project renovating and modernizing their football facilities.
“We need a practice facility, improved locker rooms, videos and cardio rooms,” Self said. “We need a place to eat meals. We need a place for (the media) to do your job, a work room. We need extra locker rooms. We need the Hall of Fame to extend. That’s just all part of it. We’re working on housing.”
Self said he now has no thoughts of ever leaving Kansas.
“The way I feel today and the way my family feels today, absolutely,” he said. “I don’t know how long my career’s going to last. I don’t see the finish line at all, but I see the finishing line being here.”
He said the fact that Kansas will probably lose many key players off this championship team to graduation and the NBA draft did not factor into his decision one way or another.
“There is going to be turnover. But I can promise you we’re still going to be good,” he said. “We don’t even know who we’re going to have yet. But we’ll figure it out. We’ll get some guys. We’ll still be good. I think if I was going to leave, it would be a lot easier leaving having won Monday.”