Williams, one of the true legends in college basketball coaching, has been at his alma mater since 2003, when he left one of the other biggest programs in college hoops: Kansas. Roy has a career record of 903-264, winning three NCAA Tournaments, and making the Final Four nine times.
The timing of North Carolina’s announcement has raised plenty of questions. It is, of course, April Fools’ Day, where pranks are RAMPANT on the internet. “Roy Williams is retiring,” is certainly something that could be put out there as one of those, but this is, by all accounts, real. Why UNC didn’t wait until April 2 to release this is a question for another day, but the college basketball world is now settling in on the idea that one of the titans of the sport is truly stepping down.
Beyond the date of the announcement, tributes and reactions to Roy’s decision are pouring in, as is early speculation about who will replace him. The North Carolina job is one of the best in all of college sports, so this is a huge moment.
Roy Williams has been a credit to the profession, and one of the truly great coaches of all-time, in any sport. Williams is also a wonderful person. Congratulations on a magnificent career, and thank you. pic.twitter.com/kt8AUzo9zS
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) April 1, 2021
OMG I thought it was April Fools joke but it is TRUE Hall of Famer ROY WILLIAMS @UNC_Basketball is retiring . He’s been so good that he is one of my MT RUSHMORES OF COACHING in my 40 + yrs @espn Bob Knight – Coach K – Dean Smith – ROY WILLIAMS / Thanks for ALL the memories !
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) April 1, 2021
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
— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) April 1, 2021
Roy Williams is a gentleman and obviously an all-time great. We will miss him on the floor. I’ll mostly miss the “now, you can’t tell this story on TV” stories, that almost always left all of us howling in laughter. All the best Roy. Congratulations on a brilliant career!
— Rece Davis (@ReceDavis) April 1, 2021
So many incredible moments. So many lives changed. So much good done.
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) April 1, 2021
Never forget this classic video. 🤣
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) April 1, 2021
Three titles and the third-most wins in the history of men’s college basketball.
Roy Williams goes out as one of the greats.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 1, 2021
One interesting, but perhaps unsurprising takeaway comes from Jeff Goodman of Stadium. He says that Williams, who is 70, is frustrated with many of the changes coming to the sport, between the onslaught of transfers, and the impending NIL reform that is set to radically change the sport.
There has been speculation that Roy Williams was going to retire in the last couple weeks. He’s 70 years old, and has been frustrated with the direction that college basketball is headed, per sources. One of those areas was the rash of transfers of late, also concerned about NIL.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) April 1, 2021
Taking over for Roy Williams at UNC is a huge opportunity for the next Tar Heels coach. There is plenty of work to be done in Chapel Hill as well.
North Carolina was 14-19, with a 6-14 ACC record in 2019-20. They recovered a bit this year, but it was still a very middling campaign for UNC, going 18-11 (10-6), and falling in the first round as an 8-seed to Wisconsin.
In recent weeks, Walker Kessler, Sterling Manley, and Walker Miller have all entered the transfer portal from North Carolina basketball. Freshman Day’Ron Sharpe has entered his name into the NBA Draft.