The NCAA men's basketball coaching world sent its regards to Roy Williams after the 70-year-old UNC head coach announced his retirement on Thursday.
From longtime rivals to Hall of Famers, coaches across the country shared their memories of Williams, who spent 18 seasons as the head coach of the Tar Heels. Here's what they had to say:
Jerod Haase — Stanford
Jerod Haase, now the head coach for Stanford, played for Williams at Kansas and served as an assistant coach under him from 2003-2012.
Haase most recently played against Williams’ Tar Heels during the semifinals of the 2020 Maui Invitational. After the tournament, Williams allowed the Cardinal to use the Dean Smith Center and weight room for practice after they were not allowed back to their own campus due to COVID-19 protocols.
“Coach Williams is simply the best," Haase said in a statement. "In 17 years as player and staff member, I have seen first-hand how amazing he is as a coach and as a person. His impact on the game has been great, and his impact on his players has been immeasurable.”
Mike Krzyzewski — Duke
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski shared his thoughts on the departure of a “great friend” and coach of a longtime in-state rival. Williams faced Duke in 44 games throughout his career.
“Like everyone, I was surprised to read today’s announcement about Roy Williams’ retirement,” Krzyzewski said in a statement. “College basketball is losing one of its greatest coaches and a man who genuinely cares about the game of basketball, and more importantly, the people who play it. Roy has led two iconic programs as a head coach and did so in exemplary fashion. I have the utmost respect for Roy and his family, who represented themselves and their institutions with class, grace and humility. While we were on opposite sides of college basketball’s greatest rivalry, we both understood how lucky we were to be part of it and always tried to represent it in the way it deserved."
Leonard Hamilton — Florida State
Florida State head coach and North Carolina native Leonard Hamilton added his own public statement.
“Growing up in North Carolina and being a tremendous fan of ACC basketball, I recognize the historical importance of North Carolina to the ACC and college basketball,” Hamilton said in a statement. “Coach Williams carried on so well the rich tradition of the UNC basketball program, and he did so with great professionalism and loyalty. He has been a fantastic ambassador for our great sport."
Tony Bennett — University of Virginia
Tony Bennett, head coach of the Virginia Cavaliers men's basketball team, released his statement on Twitter. Bennett previously coached the Cavaliers to a victory in the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
“It was an absolute honor to coach against Roy,” Bennett said. “He is one of the legends of the game and he truly cared about the young men he coached. He always had a kind word for everyone. I wish him nothing but the best, and also really low golf scores.”
John Calipari — University of Kentucky
Kentucky head coach John Calipari was another Hall of Famer who showed love to Williams, sending a two-paragraph statement on Twitter.
“Congratulations to Coach Roy Williams on a Hall of Fame career!” Calipari said. “So happy for him and his wife, Wanda. I am so thankful for his friendship. He will go down as one of the greatest coaches of all-time!”
Jim Boeheim — Syracuse
Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim also chimed in on what the UNC great meant to him. Only Krzyzewski and Boeheim have more Division I victories than Williams, who retired with 903 wins as a head coach.
"Congratulations to Coach Williams on a remarkable career," Boeheim said in a statement. "At Syracuse, we've always appreciated the challenge of competing against his teams. We wish him the best!"
Williams' time as an NCAA coach is done, but his influence in the league will remain strong.
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