Roy Williams has watched the 2017 national championship game twice.
The first time was on the night of Wednesday, April 5. It was two days after North Carolina returned home from Glendale, Ariz., with a 71-65 win over Gonzaga and its sixth national title. The second time was last week, in preparation of UNC’s media day Tuesday.
“Everyone was asking so many questions on it, I wanted to remember the game a little bit better,” Williams said, adding that he still hasn’t watched a replay of the 2016 championship loss to Villanova.
In one of his first media availabilities since winning his third title with his alma mater, Williams was noticeably relaxed. Some of that could be attributed to Friday’s decision from the NCAA Committee on Infractions, which said that UNC violated no NCAA bylaws and brought an end to a years-long athletic-academic scandal.
“I wouldn't say I was confident,” he said of the decision. “I don't think you'd be confident — you'd be scared to death. That's what I felt like when I was in the infractions hearing. I felt innocent, but, at the same time, it's not a court of law. It's what those people think.”
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.”