UNC’s Williams not worried about college basketball’s ‘ticking time bomb’

A report by Yahoo Sports warns of potential problems for Hall of Fame coaches and as many as 50 programs as a result of an FBI criminal investigation

UNC coach Roy Williams reacts on the bench during a game against NC State earlier this season (Rob Kinnan/USA TODAY Sports)

According to a story by Yahoo Sports on Friday, three ongoing federal basketball corruption cases are a “ticking time bomb” that will ultimately have a negative impact on “every major conference, Hall of Fame coaches, a score of current top players and some of the nation’s most distinguished and respected programs.”

It’s a story that has sent shockwaves throughout college basketball. But at least one of the nation’s six active Hall of Fame coaches says he’s not concerned over how the expected fallout will affect either him or his program.

“I feel very comfortable,” North Carolina’s Roy Williams said Friday at his regularly scheduled media availability. “When the phone rings at night, I am not worried about that. I may worry about a lot of other things, but it ain’t about that.”

Back in September, the U.S. Department of Justice concluded a two-year investigation into bribes paid to top college prospects that were designed to steer them to specific schools and later, to specific shoe companies and agents once they turn pro.

Indictments were issued against 10 people, including executives at Adidas, sports agents and college assistant coaches Chuck Person of Auburn, Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State, Emmanuel Richardson of Arizona and Anthony Bland of Southern Cal. They were charged with wire fraud and money laundering, among other things.

The scandal has already claimed one Hall of Fame coach, Louisville’s Rick Pitino, who was fired after being implicated in the scandal, but not charged.

Regardless of how the criminal cases turn out, the Yahoo Sports story — citing unidentified sources — indicated that the FBI investigation would result in more indictments and could “compromise” as many as 50 Division I programs.

Williams said he had not yet read the Yahoo Sports report, but had been briefed on its contents by school spokesman Steve Kirschner. He said he planned to read the story on the plane taking the Tar Heels to Saturday’s game at Louisville.

The UNC coach said that while he’s saddened by the scandal, he’s not altogether surprised by it.

“We’ve have had problems forever.” Williams said. “President (Theodore) Roosevelt started the NCAA because he was upset about some improprieties that were going on in football recruiting in 1906.

“In every part of society there are some things that are going wrong and there are some things that are going very, very well. I tend to look at it like that right there, but when the FBI gets involved, it’s a different level. There is no question about that.”

Although Williams said he has communicated with other coaches during the season — including Oklahoma’s Lon Kruger, Gonzaga’s Mark Few, Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton and fellow Hall of Famer Tom Izzo of Michigan State — the subject of the scandal and its possible implications has not come up.

“You are aware of what’s going on in the world,” Williams said, “but you are also more aware of what you may have some control over and that is to what you stay bonded.”

Besides Williams and Izzo, the other active Hall of Fame coaches in college basketball are Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, Kentucky’s John Calipari and Kansas’ Bill Self.