A UNC graduate himself, Williams has been a fixture in UNC culture since his first season in 1988, and it was hard for students and fans alike to picture UNC basketball without him. During his career, he amassed three national title wins and nine Final Four appearances and even had a doughnut from Dunkin’ Donuts named the “Ol’ Roy” in his honor.
An icon in basketball and on campus, Roy Williams’ legacy extends beyond his 903 career wins and 33 years coaching. From his famous fashion sense to the viral video of him dancing with his team in the locker room to celebrate their win over Duke in 2016, Williams' humor, leadership and superstitions will be missed throughout the UNC community.
It’s doubtful anyone can fill Roy’s Air Jordans, but in the meantime, students celebrate the legend who will forever remain in Tar Heel hearts.
Vance Young, first-year, business major
“For as long as I can remember, I have associated UNC basketball with Roy Williams. He’s started a family-like culture here at UNC that no other program can mimic. He has left an indelible legacy not only on the UNC basketball program, but also on the lives of the players he has coached. The senior speeches at the end of the season never fail to remind us fans that the influence he’s had on the players as men is second to none. It’s been both humbling and inspiring to watch a leader like coach Williams accomplish the feats he has accomplished. Roy Williams will forever be a Tar Heel.”
Will Lancaster, senior, computer science major
“My dad went to Carolina and my grandfather went to Carolina, so I grew up watching Carolina basketball. We literally named our dog Tyler after Tyler Hansbrough. It's definitely a bummer to see Roy retire, but he's been coaching for like 31 years, and he's very well-respected and he'll easily get into the Hall of Fame. It’s sad to see a legend like that retire, but it’s probably good it’s happening now.”
Sarah Weber, first-year, public policy major
“I’m going to miss Roy’s inspirational energy — watching him get so excited after a win and seeing the videos of him dancing on Instagram. It was so exciting to see how energetic he was about the team — even when the season wasn't going as planned, he always had this mentality of, ‘Things will get better, and we'll get there and we're doing the best we can.’”
Zachary Hibbard, sophomore, history major
“I met Roy once last year on Franklin Street, and he's such a caring figure in person. We were at Top of the Hill and he turned around and asked my grandmother how she was doing and how school was going for me. My favorite memory of him would have to be the 2017 season after the Duke-UNC game with the videos of him going into the locker room and dancing with the whole team. That’s always lived in my head.”
Will Rutledge, first-year, pre-business major
“I was like, ‘Man what, why am I so sad about Roy leaving?’ I got emotional this morning and I was thinking about why Roy had such a big impact. He has been an integral part of the Carolina basketball team that I've grown up loving so much. I'm super thankful for the legacy that he's left on this team and hope that he'll continue being involved with it to some capacity.”
Maya Berger, senior, exercise and sports science major
"Roy has been the coach my whole life; when I learned about UNC he was the coach, and he kind of made me fall in love with basketball. I never liked basketball until I started rooting for Carolina basketball, so now I'm super into basketball. I work for Carolina Athletics and he would always say hi or wave or give you a smile, always willing to take a photo. He just didn’t act above us; he actually was a part of the community. It’s not even his coaching as much because not everyone is a basketball fan, but I think we’ll just miss him, like the image of him and who he is and how he’s just fun."
Emma Bateski, junior, psychology major
“It’s always crazy going to basketball games and thinking, ‘I get to see Roy Williams,’ so he really adds to the hype of the basketball program and his overall positivity, you never really see him carrying any negative energy. I have a friend on the team and he always talked really highly of Roy, and no one ever seems to have anything bad about him, even from other schools, and he’s just this overall positive figure in basketball.”
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.