Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams retiring after 33-year run

NCAA Basketball

North Carolina head coach Roy Williams directs players during the second half of a first-round game against Wisconsin in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament, Friday, March 19, 2021, at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)

(AP) — North Carolina announced Thursday that Hall of Fame basketball coach Roy Williams is retiring after a 33-year career that includes three national championships.

The decision comes two weeks after the 70-year-old Williams closed his 18th season with the Tar Heels after a highly successful run at Kansas. Williams won 903 games in a career that included those three titles, all with the Tar Heels, in 2005, 2009 and 2017.

North Carolina scheduled a campus news conference for Thursday afternoon.

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 spent 10 seasons at his alma mater as an assistant coach to late mentor Dean 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 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.

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