North Carolina men's basketball coach Roy Williams announced his retirement Thursday after 48 years on the sideline, including 33 years as a head coach at UNC and Kansas.
Williams, who ranks third all-time among Division I men's basketball coaches with 903 career wins, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.
The North Carolina native was a member of UNC's freshman team during the 1968-69 season. He received a master's degree in teaching from the university in 1973 and began his coaching career later that year at Charles D. Owen High School in the Tar Heel State.
He returned to UNC in 1978 and spent a decade as an assistant on the staff of the legendary Dean Smith before leaving in 1988 to take over at Kansas.
Williams guided the Jayhawks to a 418-101 record (.805 winning percentage) across 15 years with 14 appearances in the NCAA tournament and four trips to the Final Four.
The former Roberson High School standout returned to his college alma mater for the final stop of his coaching career in 2003.
Williams led the Tar Heels to three national championships (2005, 2009 and 2017) in 18 seasons with the program. He recorded seven 30-win campaigns as part of a 485-163 (.748) overall record.
UNC posted a 14-19 mark in 2019-20, the first time in the Hall of Fame coach's career that one of his collegiate teams finished with a losing record, but it bounced back to go 18-11 with an NCAA tournament bid this year.
Williams said after the team's first-round loss to Wisconsin that the disjointed season caused by the coronavirus pandemic took a toll on him.
"I started the season when I was 70 years old and I feel like I'm 103," he told reporters. "It's been a difficult year. But everyone's had the problems with COVID that we've had. It's been a hard year to push and pull, push and pull every other day to get something done."
Jonathan Jones @jjones9
Hard to overstate Roy Williams' importance to UNC. He saved the program. 3 rings while humbly and comfortably being in his mentor's shadow. Adjusted to CBB trends well (esp for his age.) A great ambassador for the school and was extremely generous and gracious to all other sports
Steve Robinson, Hubert Davis and Brad Frederick were the Tar Heels' assistant coaches during the 2020-21 season. It's unclear whether the program will promote from within or seek an outside replacement for one of the best coaches in college basketball history.
Along with the three national titles and the Basketball Hall of Fame induction, Williams' accolades include being named Associated Press Coach of the Year twice, 18 conference regular-season titles, seven conference postseason titles and nine Final Four appearances.
He was also inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.