Self has been discharged from a hospital in Kansas City after undergoing heart surgery. He plans to rejoin the Jayhawks this week as they begin their defense of their NCAA championship.
A stressful lifestyle, playing in arguably the toughest conference in college basketball, can put even the best coaches at risk of health issues. So the news that Bill Self had a procedure to treat blocked arteries in his heart last week triggered a flurry of questions about whether he would coach Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament and, if so, how much time it would take him to return.
The school announced that Self, 60, underwent a standard heart catheterization with two stents placed to treat the blocked arteries. Wiley said the procedure was successful and Self will make a full recovery.
Roberts is expected to continue as acting coach while Self recovers from his surgery, which forced him to miss the Big 12 tournament and was a major factor in KU’s loss to Texas in Saturday’s championship game.
Despite his health concerns, Self has been a consistent and effective leader for the Jayhawks since taking over in 2000. He has 17 regular-season Big 12 championships and nine Big 12 tournament titles in his 20 seasons at Kansas, and his teams have reached four Final Fours.
As the sport continues to grow, the stakes for coaches are also rising. The stress of long days, high pressure games and the strain on their bodies is evident in the numerous retirements of current coaches or alums and even in the sudden deaths of other coaches, including Wake Forest’s Skip Prosser and West Virginia’s Bob Huggins.
With more and more coaches entering the game, the risk of career-ending injuries becomes increasingly apparent. That’s why many coaches have signed rolling contracts, which allow them to retire when they feel they’ve earned the right to do so.
In the case of Prosser, he was still coaching at Wake Forest in 2007 when he suffered his fatal heart attack during a midday run. And in the case of Huggins, who was still coach at West Virginia when he took his own fatal heart attack, the pressure on his body, both on and off the court, was simply too much.
There are many factors that go into a decision to retire, but the stress of a long day’s work and the demands on one’s body is among them. That’s a fact that can be hard to deny, especially when you consider how close to home the profession has been for so many coaches.