In a surprise bit of news, the University of North Carolina announced men’s basketball coach Roy Williams was retiring.
After 33 years as a Hall of Fame head coach, our beloved Tar Heel Roy Williams is announcing his retirement.
Thank you for all you have done and meant to everyone who plays and loves our game.
— Carolina Basketball (@UNC_Basketball) April 1, 2021
A basketball lifer, the 70-year-old Williams has coached for 48 years, with the last 18 seasons at his alma mater. Williams won three national championships at Chapel Hill, the most recent in 2017. Prior to UNC, he coached at Kansas for fifteen season, taking the Jayhawks to three Final Four appearances and one national title game.
From the school’s release:
Roy Williams, who led the University of North Carolina to three NCAA championships, is retiring after 33 seasons and 903 wins as a college basketball head coach.
The 2007 Naismith Hall of Fame inductee will address the media at a press conference on Roy Williams Court at the Dean E. Smith Center today (Thursday, April 1) at 4 p.m.
The press conference is closed to the public. Fans may watch at GoHeels.com.
Williams, a 1972 UNC graduate, just concluded his 18th season as the head coach at his alma mater. In addition to NCAA titles in 2005, 2009 and 2017, he led the Tar Heels to a 485-163 record, two other Final Fours, nine ACC regular-season championships and three ACC Tournament crowns.
This may have been something Williams had been planning on doing; he kissed the court in his final home game this season, for example, though he was also then promptly annoyed by retirement questions after the game:
After the win over the Blue Devils and Senior Day ceremonies, Williams kissed the UNC logo on the floor before leaving. That led to widespread speculation that Williams may be bidding the school farewell in preparation for retirement. Former Tar Heel player Antawn Jamison did something similar before declaring for the NBA Draft following the conclusion of the 1998 regular season.
“This is stuff has gotten a little crazy,” Williams said. “I kissed the floor as I started to walk off, and I’ve had plenty of times in my life I wished I had kissed the floor at Allen Fieldhouse 10-20-30 times. This year we were undefeated in the conference at home. Our last two games, the crowd came in and they were sensational. I didn’t know anything about Antawn Jamison kissing the floor. I’d never heard that story. I knew that we won a lot of games that Kansas and here that I thought the crowd was extremely important to us. I knew it was the last game this season in the Smith Center. And that’s all it was. That’s all it was.”
Williams leaves quite a legacy, though obviously North Carolina basketball has a legacy of its own. It’s immediately the top available job open in college basketball, assuming North Carolina conducts a search and doesn’t just promote internally.
Presumably we’ll get some sort of indicator there this afternoon at the press conference.