Roy Williams, the western North Carolinian who mentored under Dean Smith as both a student and assistant coach, and then built a power house program at Kansas before returning to Chapel Hill as the Tar Heels coach, announced his retirement Thursday.
Williams, 70, won the first of three national championships at UNC in his second season back in Chapel Hill in 2005, the one accomplishment that had eluded him during his 15 seasons with the Jayhawks.
He had turned down the his alma mater in 2000 when Smith’s longtime assistant Bill Guthridge retired after just three years as his successor, opting instead to stay at Kansas. After three rocky seasons with Matt Doherty at the helm, UNC came calling again — and this time Williams relented and came home.
He won two more national titles in 2009 and 2017, going head-to-head with Tobacco Road rival Duke and its Hall of Fame coach, Mike Krzyzewski, for 18 seasons. Williams led the Tar Heels to nine ACC regular season titles, three ACC Tournament crowns and five Final Fours to go along with his four at Kansas.
His 903 wins rank third in Division I men’s basketball history, behind Krzyzewski and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, and he is one of just six coaches to win at least three national titles. He was 485-163 with the Tar Heels, trailing only Smith in wins on the UNC bench.
The focus will quickly turn to the search for Williams’ replacement — a process that has been speculated on for years but does not have a clear top candidate.
The school is holding a 4 p.m. press conference that is closed to the public. It can be viewed at GoHeels.com.