The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday January 29th

Column: Even if Roy Williams made mistakes, his decency shines through


Daniel Wilco is a senior writer. He is a senior journalism major from Atlanta, Ga.

Recently, UNC and Daily Tar Heel alumnus S.L. Price wrote a piece for Sports Illustrated about how The Carolina Way is dead. He quotes former UNC provost and dean of the college Samuel Williamson as saying, “I can’t believe Roy Williams doesn’t know what the hell’s going on. If I believe that, I believe donkeys fly.”

I don’t know what will come out in the future about what Roy knew. But from everything I’ve seen, I know he’s a daggum good person.

It’s evident in how he treats his players. From literally jumping for joy with them after they knocked out UVa. March 13 to barely holding back tears the next night as he expressed how badly he wanted to win so that his players could experience something genuinely happy in a season that has been so generally dismal off the court.

But I’ve seen it more personally, and perhaps more clearly, in how he treats those with whom he has a more limited relationship — media.

I don’t remember my first question to him, or his response, but I do remember the manner in which he gave it. It’s the same way he’s responded to every reporter after a blowout win or a heartbreaking loss. As you talk, you have his undivided attention. Then he’ll sit back and think for a second before leaning forward and responding, meticulously crafting each answer.

But that’s to be expected, right? Not always. Forget the infamous incident in 1990 where Coach K verbally assaulted Duke student reporters for giving his team a B-plus. More recently, Rick Pitino lashed out at a Louisville student reporter after his team’s loss to UNC.

After the last regular season game I covered, I wanted to thank Roy for being nothing like that. For making even a student reporter feel like his questions mattered to the great Roy Williams. I pulled him aside after the press conference and told him what that meant to me.

“I just like to treat people like I want to be treated,” he said. “Simple as that.”

Then we walked together to the locker room. He asked me what year I was, and I told him it was my last.

“Are you going to keep writing when you graduate,” he asked, “or are you going to get a real job?”

Then he busted out laughing, and so did I.

I don’t know what will come out about Roy in the future, but I hope the findings treat him as well as he treats everyone around him. I hope that my reverence for him is not unfounded.


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