Bill Self Sr., the father of Kansas men’s basketball head coach Bill Self Jr., died on Thursday at the age of 82.
Self Sr. was a former Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association executive director. He was also a state champion basketball coach, coaching Morris High School to a Class B girls state championship at State Fair Arena in 1966.
Bill Self Sr. was known as a coach and educator who prioritized toughness and hard work. One of his best-known sayings was, “Don’t worry about the mules, just load the wagon.”
That quote can be seen on a bench outside the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Bill Self Jr. had the quote added to the bench with his name when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017.
“Hey, Bill Self Sr., from Hitchita, Oklahoma, you got your quote out there just like everybody else did,” Self Jr. said in 2017.
In April of 2017, after Self Jr. was announced as a member of the Hall of Fame’s class of 2017, his father spoke about the moment that he realized his son would be a great coach.
“Before he left [Oral Roberts], I saw where he had some coaching ability,” Self Sr. said in a 2017 interview with the Journal-World. “And when I saw him coach against Nolan Richardson at Arkansas when he was at ORU and against Eddie Sutton at Oklahoma State, I could see then that he could coach those guys.”
Self Sr. was also impressed by his son’s “ability to keep his players cool.”
“I have to say that’s a little bit of a surprise to me because I wasn’t that cool when I was coaching,” Self Sr. said in 2017.
Bill Self Sr. was present at many Kansas games over the last two decades and was present at his son’s Hall of Fame induction in 2017. Self Sr. also inducted his son into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.
According to his obituary in The Oklahoman, funeral services for Bill Self Sr. are pending.