Williams apologizes to Pitino after altercation with UNC fan

The Louisville coach had to be restrained after an unidentified fan, who was ejected, sparked a verbal confrontation at halftime of Wednesdays game at the Smith Center

Bob Donnan—X02835
Feb 22

CHAPEL HILL — Roy Williams is famous for admonishing the Smith Center crowd when he doesn’t think it’s doing enough to support of his North Carolina basketball team.Wednesday night, the Tar Heels coach found himself apologizing for a fan that apparently did too much.The fan sparked a shouting match with Louisville coach Rick Pitino as his team left the court for halftime of UNC’s 74-63 victory. Pitino was clearly upset over something the man said and had to be restrained as he tried to confront him before being escorted to the locker room by members of his staff and security personnel.The fan was ejected from the game, according to a UNC spokesman.”I just heard about one fan being ejected at halftime, yelling something at Rick and I don’t like that,” Williams said in the opening statement of his postgame press conference. “I mean, we’re North Carolina. We don’t have to be like everyone else.”You can raise Cain and you can boo, but you don’t have to say stuff that we as coaches have to put up with. I hope that never happens again at North Carolina. I apologize to Rick.”Williams can sympathize with Pitino, since like his fellow Hall of Famer he’s had to deal with increased scrutiny over an ongoing NCAA investigation into this program.”I know some of the junk I have to listen to on the road is not what I enjoy,” he said.Pitino wouldn’t go into specifics when asked what touched off Wednesday’s incident, other than to joke that “it was something kind about me.”The Louisville coach said that he’s always considered the Smith Center “the classiest place in college basketball,” but was rethinking that assessment after he “met a fan on the way out.”Although Pitino had sufficiently cooled down by the time he addressed the media after the game, it was obvious that he still wasn’t completely over the altercation.”He just got in my face and said something I didn’t like,” Pitino said of the fan, whose identity has not been released. “I take it from the students all the time. You expect it from students. But from an adult? And then turns his back on me like he’s a coward. And he is a coward. But North Carolina is a classy place and one person doesn’t speak for the rest of the people.”