Augusta State University's student-athletes were challenged to "go out and do your best at everything you do" Saturday night by University of Kansas head basketball coach Roy Williams.
Williams, the featured speaker at the 2000 Gerald Daise Memorial Sports Banquet, gave his advice to the more than 150 athletes.
"You ought to be extremely proud of what you've accomplished, go out and do your best at everything you do."
The two big winners at the banquet were Jamie Elson and Christy Bromley, who were named male and female athletes of the year, respectively. Bromley also won MVP for both basketball and cross country.
"It's a bit overwhelming and unexpected," said Bromley.
Elson was recognized as one of the leaders on the Jaguars' 11th-ranked golf team. His coach, Jay Seawell, was named coach of the year.
Williams has been at the helm at Kansas for the past 12 seasons. Although he won more games (286) than any other coach in the 1990s, has seven conference championships and 11 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, he has yet to obtain a championship ring.
"Statistics are important but not as important as relationships," Williams said. "We haven't won a national championship, but if I can have another 12 years and still have the same types of relationships, I'll be happy, national championship or not."
Over the past couple of years many players have left college early and some have even skipped college altogether for the riches of the NBA. This year, Kansas is in the middle of such a struggle with a player who has verbally agreed to play for Kansas next year. Deshawn Stevenson, a 6-foot-5 McDonald's All-American from Washington High in Fresno, Calif., has been quoted as saying that he has indeed entered his name for the NBA draft. But Williams said his star recruit has yet to make up his mind.
"I'm not so sure that is the best decision for him. We are going to sit down and visit on Thursday this week and talk it over. But as of Friday, he is not going pro," said Williams.
With the amount of money at stake, the idea of paying college athletes has been mentioned over the past couple of years. But Williams disagrees with the concept.
"I don't think that you should pay athletes because they are getting a free education, but I do think that we could make the athletic scholarship a better scholarship than it is. Many of the top academic scholarships are better than the scholarships that I give my players at Kansas," Williams said.
As he returns to Kansas and prepares his team for another title run, he returns with no regrets or any desire to move up to the NBA or over a few states to coach at Chapel Hill, N.C.
"I have been offered a few jobs in the NBA, but I have never had any interest in it," Williams said. "For the last 12 years I have been at Kansas and have loved it; I have never had the dream of coaching at North Carolina. I love Kansas first and North Carolina second."