Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Williams’ news conference transcript


Here's the transcript from Roy Williams' statement during his news conference Wednesday in Chapel Hill:

First of all, I'll admit something. It's already gone a little difficult tonight. I had a brand-new razor, and I went over to the room before I came over here to shave myself and cut myself, so when I'm doing this [pats face with cloth], you'll know it's just to make sure I'm not looking ridiculous up here.

I do want to perhaps do something a little different from most of these types of press conferences. There's no doubt that I'm excited to be here, or I wouldn't be here. Other than the serious injury or death to my family, I've never had anything more difficult than what I went through this afternoon talking to my team, and telling those 13 young men that I was leaving them. And in saying that, so it's one of the reasons that I'd like to probably get away and have a little bit of an unusual beginning to this press conference. I've prepared something and wrote some things out, and I have a reason for that, and just bear with me and hopefully my players won't go to sleep over there.

You know, I was taught by coach Smith, Bill Guthridge and Eddie Fogler 90 percent of what I do. I was taught to run a program, not just coach a team. I took those lessons from those fellows -- those guys -- for some time as a student, as a high-school coach and assistant coach for 20 years.

The rest of my education came from another great source: The University of Kansas. The people there, especially Chancellor Budig and athletic director Bob Frederick, took a great chance on me 15 years ago -- a no-name second assistant who was not a very popular choice. They trusted me, though. They believed in me and gave me guidance, and an honest to chance to run a program at a great place.

I was stunned because coach Smith and coach Harp had told me so much about Kansas, but it was better than the beautiful picture that they themselves painted. The people there showed me another great place with people having the same pride and love for their school, just like the Tar Heels do. People like Dolph Simons, the editor and owner of the local newspaper who has the unconditional love for KU, just as the great Tar Heels do for UNC. Jordan Haynes, Kurt Watson, Ken Wagman, Dana Anderson: Great love for KU. And they always made me feel like that I was not just adopted; I was one of theirs. The late Bob Billings, a former player at KU. Doug Compton, Gene Fritzel, Laird Noller. Business giants in the Lawrence and the Kansas area who always wanted to help Roy and my family enjoy life. And I took great pride in being Jayhawks.

My buddies, Mike Davis, Randy Towners, Scott Buckston, who stayed on my case and provided balance when everybody else was praising me. They were the brothers I do not have. All these people and many others showed me that KU was great and well-loved, just North Carolina.

Chancellor Hemenway, when he came, also helped open my eyes to the great place where I was really educated in a different way.

Middle America or Kansas doesn't get the respect around the country as it should. But let me tell you, the University of Kansas and Lawrence, and the people there, made Roy Williams be successful because of their love, their guidance and their pride in a great university.

I was a Tar Heel born. When I die, I'll be a Tar Heel dead. But in the middle, I have been Tar Heel and Jayhawk-bred. And I am so, so happy and proud of that.

Today has been extremely hard, as the last four days have been. To make this decision. Two great places where I wanted to coach, and I wanted to coach both. But you can't. Last time I decided to stay because it was the right thing. This time, I decided to leave because it was the right thing.

The factors for me leaving: My dream. When I was a youngster I dreamed of playing for North Carolina. Then I dreamed of coaching at North Carolina. And some of you may not believe this, but I'd never dreamed of being the head coach at North Carolina. Always dreamed of being coach Smith's assistant.

Another factor is my family. The last time I made the decision not to come, some people got very upset with me, and I had a hard time understanding because I gave up more than anybody else did. Because I gave up the opportunity to be with my family.

And then the last factor of coming back: These are my roots. Everything that I do on the basketball court and everything I do with these players, coach Smith, Bill Guthridge and Eddie Folger taught me, and the University of Kansas gave me the latitude to try those things and make mistakes, and still say that they loved me.

The second time in your life that you have a major decision usually doesn't happen. I don't really like to say the word "chance" -- you know, when you say a second chance to do something. I don't like to use the word chance because that means you were hoping that it would come again -- and that was not me. I wanted Matt Doherty to be here for 20 years, and to be very successful, and to be very proud of my school. I was going to coach another 15 years, and then I was going to head to mountains, or I was going to head to wild dunes, and pull for the Jayhawks and Tar Heels. So to say I wanted a second chance would think that I was thinking that, and that is not the case. It's a second time for this decision, and I think I made the right decision this time as well.

My players at KU -- Kirk Hinrich, Nick Collison. Bryant Nash, Jeff Graves. Jeff Hawkins, Aaron Miles, Michael Lee, Keith Langford, Wayne Simien. Moulaye Niang, Stephen Vincent, Brett Olson, Christian Moody. Sitting in that locker room -- standing in that locker room -- was the most difficult thing I've ever had in my entire life. The one thing I asked them to remember is that every day I gave them everything I had. I don't believe in 110%, but every day I gave them everything I had. I cared about them as people, and I appreciated them. I appreciated how hard they worked for me, and how they trusted me.

We have four new guys coming in. I've been trying to get up with all of them tonight, and I'll get up with them before I go to bed. Jeremy Case, J.R. Giddens, both youngsters from Oklahoma, in the Midwest area. They wanted to go to a basketball school, and they trusted Roy Williams. Folks, it's hard to turn my back on those kids. Omar Wilkes and David Padgett -- two other youngsters from a distance. Omar Wilkes from UCLA's area. His father was a great player for UCLA and played for the Los Angeles Lakers. Omar Wilkes' decision came down to Kansas or UCLA, and he chose Kansas. On Friday morning at 5 minutes to 6 my time -- five minutes to 7 Mr. Baddour's time -- I put my hand on the phone to call him, to tell him that I could not come. Because I'd look down at my desk and I'd seen the picture of Omar Wilkes. A lot of people say Roy's too emotional, but, folks, I care about those kids. I'm going to care about you guys [pointing] -- and it's not going to be just about the number of points and rebounds that you get. I'm going to care about you every day of your life, the way the greatest coach in the history of any level of basketball taught me to do.

David Padgett's final decision came down to North Carolina and Kansas. And he chose Kansas. And not being able to coach that young man is something that most of you can't understand, unless you've had that great life and great relationship of players and coaches.

My past players gave me a chance. When I was that no-name second assistant guy who'd never coached a game, from the first day, they gave me a chance and believed in me until that last shot did not go in against Syracuse last Monday night. And they never stopped believing in me. To these folks sitting over here, I will respect you, I will work with you, I will work for you. I expect you to play unbelievably hard, and I expect you to be unbelievably unselfish. With a single purpose of our team doing well. You will sacrifice, and in the end you will be rewarded for those sacrifices. You never work harder than I work, and you will never care more than I care. But I will ask you to come awfully close. I expect great things, and we will all share in the responsibility to make those great things come true.

I will ask you to follow one big rule: Do what I ask you to do. If I tell you to go to class, it's a pretty simple deal -- just go to class. If I tell you to be on time, it's a pretty simple deal -- just be on time. And if I tell you to go across the lane and set a screen, it's a pretty simple deal. And you'll find that's the easiest way to stay out of trouble -- just do what we ask you to do.

If you do those things, I promise you one other thing. We will be successful at the end, because we'll all be in this together. I say to my team all the time, there's five fingers, but a fist is much stronger. And that's what we're going to be: We're going to be five guys working together. I don't change from day to day, and I don't expect you to change.

Two things I'm extremely proud of: The Final Four last year and the Final Four this year. Not just being there, but having the highest graduation rates of any team in the Final Four for two years in a row. Another thing that I'm extremely proud of: Last week in the USA Today, it listed the 13 programs that had been in the Final Four most often since 1985. And Kansas had the lowest budget of any of those teams. Just because I'm proud of it doesn't mean I want it to continue.


I expect the players to make me proud of you in every phase of your life. We're going to play really fast, and defend with toughness and pride. You will play both ends, and you'll care about your teammates. And I promise you that we'll be successful. As I said, I had two dream schools, and I wanted to coach both. But can't do it at the same time. Now, though, I'm coaching North Carolina, and few people can ever say that they've coached at their two favorite schools. Both schools touched by something special.

Chancellor Moeser three years ago gave me a quote that I've never forgotten. He said, Roy, it's not immoral to love two institutions. I've never stopped loving North Carolina. I also believe that Walter and Mary Doherty never pulled for Matt any harder than I did. And now no one will ever pull harder for the University of Kansas than I do. I love Matt Doherty and feel for him. Mr. Baddour, coach Smith would say he has savvy, because he didn't push me early on. Monday night a week ago we played in the national championship game, and he gave me some space and gave me some time and didn't push. You and I both know that it was reported that somebody was going to offer me the job and give me 24 hours to say yes or no, and I happen to think that Dick made the right decision, because he would have done that I would've said no. Because I care about those 13 kids in the locker room, and I needed some time to space away from that.

I want to be successful here. I'll never be able to do what coach Smith did. No one will be able to do -- no one has ever had the whole package like he has. But I can only tell everyone in here, there'll never be a day that you'll think somebody's working harder than your head basketball coach. And to the players, there'll never be a day that you'll think any other head coach is working harder.

In closing, I'd like to do things quickly. I think they know where they are. Joe Holladay and Steve Robinson, if you guys will stand up just a second. Two of my assistant coaches. I'm hopeful that Joe Holladay will be a candidate for the head coaching job at Kansas himself, but also I wanted our players to get to see him and know him, and if that doesn't work out he'll be here with me. He coached Steve Hale, a great player at North Carolina when I was here as an assistant, so he has Tar Heel ties from a long time back.

Steve Robinson was with me my first seven years at Kansas. He played in the fieldhouse, seven years coached in the fieldhouse, and then he came and he coached in the Smith center against North Carolina. And is a guy that I trust with my life.

And I want people to understand, too, that I have three other guys at Kansas that I left them there today that I want them to be there for my players. I didn't want to bring everybody here and my players be left there and not have anybody to talk to this afternoon, and not have anybody to encourage them. And I think one thing I want all Tar Heel people to do: It's not Roy's staff. It wasn't Matt's staff. It's the University of North Carolina's staff, and that's who you're going to have. And I haven't seen him, Phil Ford, I'm going to ask Phil to be a little bit of a bridge here until the time that the University of Kansas names their coach and their staff. I'm going to ask Phil to help me, because when I think of the epitome of a North Carolina basketball player, I think of Phil Ford.


I plan on bringing as many of my guys that I can, and this'll be the last time you'll ever hear me clarify or classify them as "my guys." Because when they walk here, they're going to be North Carolina staff. We're going to heal some wounds right from the start, because we're not going to have that. And Phil Ford, again, I'm going to ask him to help me bridge this time until all of those guys get here. And Phil Ford, as I said, the epitome of a North Carolina basketball player, will be important to me just as James Worthy was Saturday in Los Angeles, and Mitch Kopchek was Sunday morning in Los Angeles. And the people that have called me -- Jeff Libo and the other people. This is a family, and we're not going to have anybody bickering. We're going to be a family from the word go.

I'd like to also say hello to my son, Scott. Tomorrow's his birthday. Happy birthday, son. Last time, Scott wanted me to come, and I didn't do it, and it was one of the hard times for me as a parent because I thought I let him down. But I was so, so proud of him of the way he stood up to some of the things that were difficult at that time.

My daughter Kimberly is teaching dance tonight in Lawrence, Kansas. If I can find her a job and get her here quick enough, I'm going to try to bring her here too, but she's got some great friends there and is going to stay there for a while.

And then the lady in the unique color blue that I hope you appreciate is my wife, Wanda. Stand up please, honey. I'm a good husband, and I said please, and she has just one message for you folks: She does not do interviews. You have absolutely no hope of getting her to say anything whatsoever.

And I think I've talked long enough. I wanted to talk long enough that perhaps you wouldn't have any questions, but I know that doesn't usually work.

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