North Carolina coach Roy Williams, one of the winningest coaches in college basketball history, has decided to retire.
UNC announced the news Thursday morning, a few weeks after the conclusion of Williams’ 18th season in Chapel Hill. Williams won three national championships at North Carolina and coached in nine Final Fours over the course of his legendary career, which also included 15 seasons as the head coach at Kansas.
In all, the 70-year-old Williams concludes his coaching career with a 903-264 record as a college head coach. His 903 wins are third-most all-time, trailing Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (1,170) and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim (1,083).
North Carolina head coach Roy Williams has decided to retire after 33 seasons as a college head coach. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Williams graduated from North Carolina in 1972 and set out on a coaching career that put him into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007. After a stint at a local high school, Williams became an assistant coach at UNC in 1978, working under Dean Smith for 10 years.
From there, he landed the head-coaching job at Kansas in 1988 and led the Jayhawks to 14 NCAA men’s tournament appearances, including three Final Fours and a national runner-up finish in 2003. He also coached Kansas to nine regular-season conference titles and four conference tournament championships while amassing a 418-101 record in Lawrence.
Following the 2003 season, Williams became the head coach at his alma mater, North Carolina. He quickly got the Tar Heels back to the postseason and won a national championship in his second year as head coach, the 2004-05 season. Williams’ Tar Heels would win it all once again in 2009, finish as the national runner-up in 2016 and then win a third national title in 2017.
In addition to his three national titles at North Carolina, Williams led the Tar Heels to two other final fours, nine ACC regular-season championships and three ACC tournament titles.
Following the program’s back-to-back national championship game appearances in 2016 and 2017, UNC lost in the NCAA men’s tournament’s second round in 2018 and then went to the Sweet 16 in 2019. The last two seasons, though, have not been up to the normal UNC standard. The Tar Heels went 14-19 last year before going 18-11 this season and losing to Wisconsin in the first round of the NCAA men’s tournament.
That proved to be Williams’ final game as a college head coach, and now UNC will begin a national search for his replacement. That replacement will have big shoes to fill.
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