The COI’s decision concluded that student-athletes likely received fraudulent credits, but the panel could not conclude that North Carolina was in violation of any NCAA bylaws regarding academic misconduct. The decision drew its fair share of praise and criticism.
“There's not going to be a perfect model because you can't legislate honesty and you can't legislate morality,” Williams said. “I think what we have to find is a better model and do a better job of following the rules. I think we've got a million rules and some of them, we waste too much time on.”
He detailed the noticeable impact the looming decision had on UNC’s recruiting. In Williams’ first 10 years, North Carolina signed 26 McDonald’s All-Americans. Among those were household names like Raymond Felton, Tyler Hansbrough, Harrison Barnes and Justin Jackson.
“And then we've signed one after that for the next four years,” he said. “I think we didn't get that dumb. So something affected it.”
The head coach weaved humor into almost every topic he touched on. When his podium microphone started to tip over, he watched it for a few seconds before looking under the table and yelling, “Theo? Theo?” referencing Theo Pinson’s now-famous press conference crashing in 2016.
As questions shifted more to basketball, Williams highlighted how different the 2017 championship team was from his other two. He highlighted Jackson, Pinson and Joel Berry II, all of whom committed to UNC during the height of the scandal.
“They hung with us the whole time,” Williams said. “They had people tell them, 'You'll never play in an NCAA tournament game.' The feeling of pride and satisfaction that those guys had faith and trust in us worked out all right … It's just euphoria.”
While comparing his three championship teams, Williams shared an anecdote from the 2005 title game against Illinois.
“I was really mad at myself because (head coach) Bruce (Weber) got all the way off the court before I got to shake his hand,” he recalled. “I chased him down, and he said, ‘Don’t worry about that.’ I said, ‘No, I shouldn’t have done that.”
He put an emphasis on finding Michigan State’s Tom Izzo right after the 2009 championship ended and shaking his hand. And Williams did the same thing this year with Gonzaga’s Mark Few this year.
As for his personal life, he admitted this summer was his worst in history in terms of golfing. His grandsons pushed for him to get a mohawk, but he had to pass on that one. He welcomed a third grandson to the world just over two weeks ago.
“On the 13th day he was alive, he came to Late Night,” Williams said. “So we’ve got him started the right way.”