CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — 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.
He finishes his career, at age 70, as the third winningest coach in Division 1 history.
The 2007 Naismith Hall of Fame inductee spoke to the media at a press conference on Roy Williams Court at the Dean E. Smith Center on Thursday.
“I just don’t feel that I’m the right man any longer,” Williams said when explaining why it’s time to move on.
Williams, a 1972 UNC graduate, just wrapped up 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.
In his final home game as head coach of the Tar Heels, Williams’ team beat rival Duke 91-73 — cementing his record in the Smith Center at 241 wins and just 40 losses.
UNC lost to Wisconsin in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in his final game, which was Williams’ only first-round loss in 30 tournaments.
Williams, a North Carolina native, was an all conference basketball player in high school. He went to the University of North Carolina and played on the freshman team, where he began studying the game under hall of famer Dean Smith.
Williams spent 10 seasons at his alma mater as an assistant coach to late mentor Smith before leaving to take over the Jayhawks program in 1988. He spent 15 seasons there, taking Kansas to four Final Fours and two national title games.
He passed on taking over at UNC in 2000 after the retirement of Bill Guthridge, but ultimately couldn’t say no a second time and returned as coach in 2003 after the tumultuous Matt Doherty era that included an 8-20 season.
Williams immediately stabilized the program and broke through for his first national championship in his second season with a win against Illinois, marking the first of five Final Four trips with the Tar Heels. His second title came in 2009 with a team that rolled through the NCAA Tournament, winning every game by at least a dozen points, including the final game against Michigan State played in the Spartans’ home state.
The third title was delivered by a team that included players who had lost the 2016 championship game to Villanova on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. This time, the Tar Heels beat a one-loss Gonzaga team for the championship.
Williams won 483 games at UNC — making him the only coach in history to win more than 400 games at two different schools. He finishes his career with 903 wins; he got to 900 wins in fewer games (1,161) and seasons (33) than any other coach in history.
Williams won three Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament titles with the Tar Heels after winning seven league tournament titles with the Jayhawks.
Along the way, Williams had just one losing season — an injury-plagued 14-19 year in 2019-20 — and otherwise missed the NCAA Tournament only in his first season at Kansas when he inherited a program on probation and in 2010 with a UNC team that reached the NIT final.
Williams would go on to be elected into the Naismith Hall of Fame and have the court in the Dean E. Smith Center named in his honor.
From 2003 to 2021, no team had more NCAA Tournament game wins (45), Final Four appearances (5) or National Championships (3) than the Roy Williams led Tar Heels.
(The Associated Press contributed to this article.)
ROY WILLIAMS’ CAREER HIGHLIGHTS (source: goheels.com):
- 48 seasons as a basketball coach, including 33 seasons as a college head coach (18 at UNC, 15 at Kansas), 10 as assistant coach at UNC and five as head coach at Owen High School in Black Mountain, N.C.
- 2007 inductee to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame
- Third all-time in wins by a Division I head coach with 903
- Reached 900 wins in fewer games (1,161) and seasons (33) than any coach in NCAA history
- 903 wins in 33 seasons is 100 more than any other coach in NCAA history (803 by Mike Krzyzewski, 802 by Dean Smith)
- Second-winningest coach in UNC history and third in Kansas history
- Only coach in history with 400 wins at two schools
- Sixth-highest winning percentage (.774) in NCAA history
- Led UNC to three NCAA championships (2005, 2009, 2017)
- Third to take teams to the NCAA Tournament at least 30 times
- Consensus National Coach of the Decade (2000-09)
- Led UNC and Kansas to nine Final Fours, fourth most all-time
- Second in NCAA Tournament wins (79), second in No. 1 seeds (13), second in games (105), third in NCAA Tournament winning percentage (.745) and tied for fourth in NCAA championships
- NCAA-record eight wins over Associated Press No. 1-ranked teams
- Second in NCAA history in 30-win seasons (12) and tied for fourth in 20-win seasons (29)
- Tied for fifth all-time with 18 regular-season conference championships
- Third all-time in ACC regular-season wins (212)
- Third-most ACC road wins (93) and fourth-highest ACC road winning percentage all-time (.604)
- Second-most wins (208) in first 300 ACC regular-season games
- 32 NBA first-round draft picks (22 at UNC, 10 at Kansas)
- 52 former players in the NBA
- Four National Players of the Year, six ACC Scholar-Athletes of the Year, 10 consensus first-team All-Americas, 17 first-team All-Americas and three Bob Cousy Award winners
- Only coach to coach two Academic All-Americas of the Year (Jacque Vaughn at Kansas, Tyler Zeller at UNC)
THE WILLIAMS RECORD:
Overall: 903-264, 33 seasons (.774)
Record at UNC: 485-163, 18 seasons (.748)
NCAA Championships (3): 2005, 2009, 2017 at UNC
Final Fours (9): 1991, 1993, 2002, 2003 at Kansas; 2005, 2008, 2009, 2016, 2017 at UNC
NCAA Tournament: 79-27 (.745)
NCAA Tournament at UNC: 45-13 (.776)
NCAA Finals: 3-3
NCAA Finals at UNC: 3-1
National Championship Games (6): 1991, 2003 at Kansas; 2005, 2009, 2016, 2017 at UNC
National Semifinals: 6-3
National Semifinals at UNC: 4-1
NCAA Elite 8s (13): 1991, 1993, 1996, 2002, 2003 at Kansas; 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2016, 2017 at UNC
NCAA Elite 8: 9-4 (5-3 at UNC)
NCAA Sweet 16s (19): 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2003 at Kansas; 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019 at UNC
NCAA Sweet 16: 13-6 (8-2 at UNC)
NCAA 2nd Round: 19-10 (10-5 at UNC)
NCAA 1st Round: 29-1 (15-1 at UNC)
Conference Regular-Season Titles (18): 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2003 at Kansas; 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2016, 2017, 2019 at UNC
ACC Regular-Season: 212-94 (.693)
ACC Home: 119-33 (.783)
ACC Road: 93-61 (.604)
ACC Tournament: 29-15 (.659)
ACC Tournament Titles (3): 2007, 2008, 2016
Conference Tournaments Titles (7): 1992, 1997, 1998, 1999 at Kansas; 2007, 2008, 2016 at UNC
Conference Tournaments (ACC and Big 8/12): 52-25
Home: 444-57 (.886)
Home UNC Record: 243-41 (.856)
Smith Center UNC Record: 241-40 (.858)
Away UNC Record: 123-77 (.615)
Against Ranked Teams (AP poll): 164-134 (most recent vs. Florida State, 3/12/21)
Against No. 1-Ranked Teams: 8-8