One of the doctors who performed surgery on Roy Williams to remove a tumor from his right kidney said he expects the North Carolina coach to be on the Tar Heels bench "this season and for years to come."

Williams, 62, underwent the 3 1/2-hour surgery Wednesday after doctors detected the tumor during a physical earlier this month. Dr. Eric Wallen, co-leader of the surgical team said in a release from the school that Williams may even be ready to return to coaching when the Tar Heels begin practice on Oct. 13 unless a second surgery is required next month to remove a tumor from the coach's left kidney.

"He could miss some practice time if we perform another procedure sometime in October," Wallen said, "but he would be able to resume his coaching duties prior to the start of the regular season."

Hearing Wallen say that has to be a relief to North Carolina fans who learned earlier Wednesday morning that Williams was in surgery. WRAL was the first to report Williams was having the procedure done.

North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham emphasized in the school's release that Williams should only return when he's healthy enough to do so.

Williams worked up until he was scheduled to undergo surgery and had been making in-home recruiting visits as recently as last week. He is set to begin his 10th season at North Carolina and has coached the Tar Heels to a pair of national titles in 2005 and 2009.

"As Coach Williams frequently says, he has the best staff in the country and I know they will do an excellent job as CoachWilliams recuperates," Cunningham said. "We will be ready for his return as soon as he is able to do so, but I have stressed to him that he returns only when he has been given the medical approval and he is ready to do that. Hopefully that will be soon."

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