Thursday, April 1, 2021

North Carolina basketball announces Roy Williams’ retirement after 33 seasons

Kansas head basketball coach Bill Self, and former coaches Larry Brown, Roy Williams and Ted Owens have a laugh while talking shop in preparation for the 60th Anniversary celebration of Allen Fieldhouse on Monday, Oct. 27, 2014.

Kansas head basketball coach Bill Self, and former coaches Larry Brown, Roy Williams and Ted Owens have a laugh while talking shop in preparation for the 60th Anniversary celebration of Allen Fieldhouse on Monday, Oct. 27, 2014.


North Carolina basketball announced Thursday morning that longtime coach Roy Williams, who spent 15 seasons at Kansas prior to UNC, was retiring after 33 years as a college head coach.

Williams, who replaced Larry Brown at KU in 1988, led the Jayhawks to 418 victories, four Final Fours and two appearances in the national championship game.

The 70-year-old North Carolina native left KU for his alma mater in 2003 just days after a loss to Syracuse in the national title game, and went on to win 485 games and three national titles with the Tar Heels.

His departure, which came a couple of years after he turned down the North Carolina job to stay at Kansas, was the source of a lot of hurt and anger for Kansas fans and for Williams himself.

Although the two schools never scheduled a game against one another, the Jayhawks and Tar Heels met up three times in the post-Williams era at Kansas, with KU and new head coach Bill Self winning all three games against his predecessor in the NCAA Tournament.

The first meeting came in the 2008 Final Four en route to the Jayhawks winning the national championship. The next came in the Elite Eight in 2012. And the third head-to-head matchup came in Kansas City, Mo., in 2013, when the top-seeded Jayhawks knocked off Williams' eighth-seeded Tar Heels in the second round.

Williams finishes his career with 903 victories, landing him in third place on the all-time Division I coaching list. He’s the only coach in history to win more than 400 games at two universities and owns the sixth highest winning percentage in NCAA history (.774).

A closed news conference is scheduled for 3 p.m. today in Chapel Hill, N.C., where Williams, a 2007 Hall of Fame inductee, will officially announce the decision.

Reaction to Roy Williams' career and retirement:

"He had an impact on so many lives. He was more than just a coach to me. He was a second father and mentor to me. I learned about toughness and work ethic. I learned about fighting through adversity. I am forever indebted to him. He took a chance on me and gave a small town guard from North Dakota the opportunity to play at the highest level of college basketball." — Jeff Boschee

"Coach Williams has had a tremendous impact on my life, on and off the court and his influence has helped me grow in so many different ways. I just feel blessed and lucky to have played for him and for all of the things he allowed me to experience, from my time at KU with him to going to UNC and working camp and continuing to help me in my career as a coach." — Nick Bradford

"Coach Williams gave me an opportunity to come and play for him and although I was only a walk-on, he coached and treated me like I was a McDonald's All-American. Coach was the ultimate competitor, worked extremely hard and held his players to very high standards. He also cared on a very deep level for each of his players and you knew that support was going to last well beyond basketball. I'm so thankful, grateful and proud that got to play and learn from that man. I wish him nothing but the best in retirement." — Brett Ballard

“He came into a situation on probation, where we could’ve gone one of two ways, and he was unbelievable. He won an insane amount of games and put us on an upward trajectory. For (former KU AD) Bob Frederick to hire him, he deserves a ton of credit because it was a risk and we didn’t have a down year. Think about it, in Coach Williams' third year, with one of those years being a probation year, he had KU playing for a national championship. Kansas fans should be indebted to Roy Williams forever for continuing the tradition. In our story in the history of college basketball, there are only eight coaches and he was a big, big part of this place. Him leaving led to us getting Bill Self, who has been equally as incredible. It couldn’t have worked out any better for the two programs.” — Greg Gurley

"I met Roy Williams when I was a camp counselor at Carolina Basketball School in 1978. He was a gentleman then and he hasn't changed. It just so happens that he also has been a great basketball coach, a Naismith Hall of Fame coach for good reason." — Fran Fraschilla

“Coach Williams is a college basketball icon. Who else has led two blue blood programs to perennial success? I am grateful for the amazing impact he has had on my life, the Kansas program and the game of basketball.” — Wayne Simien

“Roy Williams has been an icon in our industry for the last 33 years, and his retirement is very well deserved. Roy won at the highest level and projected first-class while doing so. To have the opportunity to follow him here at the University of Kansas and see firsthand the type of program he ran was an honor of a lifetime. Congratulations to him on a Hall of Fame career and for the lasting impact he has had on our sport.” — Bill Self

"There hasn't been a better coach or person in the game. Roy Williams matched his coaching prowess with uncommon kindness (and was) as great of a person as a coach. That's one hell of a person." — Jay Bilas

"The NCAA congratulates coach Roy Williams on his remarkable coaching career, which spanned more than four decades at two of the great programs in the history of college basketball. The 900-plus wins, nine Final Fours, six appearances in the national title game and three national championships at Kansas and North Carolina add up to a Hall of Fame career that is among the greatest in the history of coaching, yet his greatest legacy may be the successful young men he mentored and developed. We thank Coach Williams for his many contributions to college basketball, and while we’ll all miss seeing him on the sidelines, we’re thrilled for the additional opportunities he now has to be with his loved ones." — Dan Gavitt, NCAA president of men's basketball

Check back throughout the day for more on Williams' retirement.


Jonathan Allison 1 year, 4 months ago

good for Roy, and congratulations on a long and successful career.

It will be interesting to see where UNC goes from here.

A head coaching change at a high elite blue blood is rare. Will they go for a "safe" hire and seek out an established successful coach and offer an exorbitant raise? Will they look for an up and comer in college coaching? Will they go outside the box and try to find a coach/former player who is more relatable to elite recruits (former NBA player or NBA coaching experience)

Kit Duncan 1 year, 4 months ago

KU was blessed to have had Coach Williams for 15 seasons! Under severe pressure from family and his former coach Dean Smith to come home to UNC, Roy broke many Jayhawk hearts, some irreparably. I am not one who felt betrayed when he left and have always wished him well (except when playing against Kansas).

Congratulations Coach on a superb career!

Andy Godwin 1 year, 4 months ago

Coach Williams is a true gentleman and an outstanding coach. He was the right hire at the right time for KU and his teams came so close on several occasions at winning a national championship. He clearly had some of the best teams in the nation only to stumble in the NCAA Tournament. 2003 was one of the biggest heartbreaker of all time (81 to 78) for KU fans. "Dadgummit", if they had not set the record for the worst free throw percentage (12 for 30; 40%) in a championship game, he would have left KU on a truly high note. Enjoy retirement and congratulations on a wonderful career. Rock Chalk.

''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 happy and proud of that. I wanted to coach both. But you can't. The last time, I decided to stay because it was the right thing. This time I decided to leave because it was the right thing.''

Tim Orel 1 year, 4 months ago

It would be fun if Mike Consonants (Kryschevski or whatever) were to take over UNC.

My bet is that their next coach will be one of Roy's former players who has been a head coach for a few years. Maybe Mark Turgeon or Jeff Boschee.

Bryce Landon 1 year, 4 months ago

I have mixed feelings about Roy Williams. On the one hand, I am thankful that he kept Kansas relevant on the national scene after Larry Brown left to coach the Spurs, and after KU was banned from defending its 1988 national title because of Brown's transgressions against NCAA rules. He took at KU team picked to finish anywhere from 6th-8th in the Big 8 in 1989-90 and led them to a Preseason NIT title against heavyweights of the day like LSU and UNLV en route to a 30-5 season that including that wonderful 150-point outing against Kentucky. His offense was high-scoring and potent and fun to watch. He won five Big 8 and four Big 12 regular season titles, and won one Big 8 and three Big 12 Tournaments. He is also the most recent coach to go unbeaten in Big 12 play (the 2002 team went 16-0). And he got us to four Final Fours and two national title games. KU owes him a great deal of thanks for all that.

At the same time, I'm also green with envy toward him because he couldn't bring home the national title while at Kansas, and yet brought it home three times to North Carolina. And I don't appreciate that he left KU after promising to stay with the program for the rest of his career. While one could make the case that he left because of his feud with AD Al Bohl, a promise is a promise, and he either should have kept it, or he should never have made it at all. I'm glad that, in KU-UNC matchups since 2003, KU is 3-0, with all those wins coming in the NCAA Tournament.

Anyway, now that he's retired, he can hang out in the mountains of North Carolina and play golf everyday. If anyone has earned that right, it's Roy Williams.

Dale Rogers 1 year, 4 months ago

Another article reported he's talking seriously about an RV trip across the country. Keep your eyes peeled, I'd be stunned if a few days in Lawrence was not included.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 4 months ago

Gurley’s quote sums it up best. Gutsy call by Frederick and a tremendous job by Williams to bring us out of the morass. And put us at a sustained level of achievement that truly made KU one of the top programs in the country. His success made the KU job one that most coaches in America would have jumped at.

Never had an issue with him leaving for UNC.

Keep Roy on speed dial. When the sanctions hit, maybe he’s the guy to see us through it, like he did before, and help us move onto a brighter future.

Congratulations to one of the highest achieving coaches in NCAA history.

Dale Rogers 1 year, 4 months ago

I keep thinking about this when I think about Emmett Jones as potentially our next football HC.

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