UNC head basketball coach Roy Williams has done a lot of things in basketball (including two NCAA championships), but he’d never collapsed on the sidelines. Until last night. Williams, who has suffered from vertigo his whole life, knew immediately what was wrong — if breathless fans and players didn’t. The coach told the News Observer that when he “whirled around” to coach his players the “rocks in his head” shifted and caused the collapse. Williams was being funny, but literal: benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is caused by crystals or pebbles in the inner ear which get thrown out of alignment and impede balance.
The condition has been sensationalized by movies and songs, but it’s a very real affliction that can lay a victim out for days. Williams says he’s been diagnosed with it by different physicians, from the Mayo Clinic to doctors at Chapel Hill. He’s doing fine, he says, since the incident. It’s surprising Williams hasn’t had a collapse before. The Mayo Clinic says it is “usually triggered by specific changes in the position of your head” — something referees often cause in mystified coaches. BPPV has an “estimated incidence of 107 per 100,000” — or about 1 in a 1,000.