- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 5, 2000

Roy Williams is looking to the skies for professional guidance this week as he debates whether to stay at Kansas or go to North Carolina.

Williams feels an obligation to his indentured servants in Lawrence, if not to the school and the community. He also feels a special affinity to the school that he served as an assistant to Dean Smith for 10 years. He bled Carolina blue long before he dumped Greg Ostertag on the Utah Jazz.

The coaching carousel, meanwhile, is cranking up again. Some of the hottest coaching names in college basketball are on alert, readying their portfolios as Williams continues his counseling sessions with Zeus.

There is something almost unseemly about all this, given the high number of indentured servants whose quality of life is being threatened by a job opening in Chapel Hill, N.C.

The indentured servants do not have the same freedom as the men in whom they put their trust. They are bounded to a letter-of-intent. They are so many pieces of valuable property, ever vulnerable to the intrusive excesses of the NCAA suits.

The NCAA suits draft one measure of legislation after another, and the cumbersome result is an assault on individual liberties.

The NCAA suits spent last season sifting through Erick Barkley's background and peeking into his family's closet.

Americans cherish their privacy, even finding fault with some of the invasive questions on the Census 2000 form. Do you have a toilet, America? Uncle Sam wants to know. But America's respectful manner around privacy does not resonate with the NCAA suits.

They go into people's bedrooms and pull back the sheets to collect their DNA evidence. They believe they have this right, because the sanctity of the game is at stake, although the game is hardly pure, only hypocritical.

The game also is a big business, and the suits who patrol the sidelines treat it as such, as well they should. This is the American way.

Williams may or may not take the job at North Carolina, and in his case, it probably is not about the Benjamins. But down the food chain, it is about the Benjamins, along with the fame and prestige, the shoe deals, the TV and radio contracts, the summer camp and other perks.

Matt Doherty, Steve Robinson and Kevin Stallings have been mentioned as possible successors to Williams at Kansas. If Williams stays at Kansas, Eddie Folger is said to be behind curtain No. 2 at North Carolina.

The reverberations could be felt beyond those places as well.

The coaches, like the indentured servants, sign their names to important documents. But those documents are only as strong as a coach wants them to be, which is not very strong if a better job comes along.

That is how it works among the leaders of the game, and it is laughable. They hold kids just out of high school to a higher standard than they hold themselves.

Bryant Nash, who signed with Kansas in the spring, is one of those kids.

He told USA Today that he would be disappointed if Williams leaves.

"I guess I would be a little upset because he said he wouldn't leave, but what can I do?" Nash said.

Nash can make certain he does not accept a Big Mac meal from an AAU coach this summer. He can instruct his parents to destroy all their personal papers. He should know this: He now lives under the NCAA umbrella, and coaches come and go with impunity, but you, the indentured servant, the principal moneymaker, do not have the same latitude unless you're one of the lucky few who can jump to the NBA.

It's hard to begrudge Williams. He has worked his way up the ranks, and he has been successful, and now, at age 49, this born and bred North Carolinian has the dream of a lifetime at his fingertips.

The disgust is not with Williams. It is with a sanctimonious system that reeks with foulness.

It is the kind of system that spoils what should be an intriguing situation from afar.

Should he go? Should he stay?

Those are minor questions.

The larger question is how the system maintains a straight face while conducting its un-American business.

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