College basketball world reacts to Coach K retirement announcement

Players, current and former, administrators, staff members and rivals react to the news of Mike Krzyzewski's decision to step down after one more season at Duke

Duke University basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski speaks during a press conference in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Thursday (Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP)

DURHAM — Mike Krzyzewski plans to coach one more season before turning over control of the Duke basketball program to former Blue Devils point guard and current assistant Jon Scheyer.

Still, Wednesday’s announcement that the Hall of Fame coach will retire after the 2021-22 season sent shockwaves throughout the Triangle and the college basketball world.

Here’s a sampling of what people are saying about Krzyzewski and his decision to walk away after four decades, more wins than anyone in college basketball history, five national titles and three Olympic gold medals.

Blue Devils player Joey Baker

“I wouldn’t say I’m surprised, but I kind of feel like most people knew it was looming. Now that it’s here, it hits a little bit differently. He’s a special guy, that’s what has made his career so amazing. I don’t expect this upcoming year to be anything different. He has a commitment to his players. He wants to coach us and wants one more year with the Crazies, I’m sure. We’re excited that he did decided to come back and we want to do everything we can to make it special.”

Blue Devils player Wendell Moore Jr.

“He’s about to turn 75 this year and you can only coach for so long. With the accomplishments he’s done, he really could have retired multiple years ago and been completely fine. But he decided to continue to give his knowledge to us as players. It’s been a great opportunity for me to learn from him, going on three years. I can’t see anyone else I want to learn from.”

Former Duke star and current assistant coach Nolan Smith

“There’s been a lot of conversations behind the scenes, a lot of meetings where we’ve been discussing this. For us, as his assistants and as his former players and friends, it was making sure he’s good and making sure he knows we have his back whatever decision he comes to.”

Former Duke star and current assistant coach Chris Carrawell 

“When I made the decision and committed to Duke in fall of ’95, you don’t think the same coach is going to be here 26 years later. So the opportunity to play for him, now to have the opportunity to come back and work for him has been an amazing journey. But he’s still the man. He will always be the man.”

Outgoing Duke athletic director Kevin White

“We throw around this GOAT, greatest of all time. For me, it seems a little thin today, actually seems inadequate in this particular instance, but Mike, you are the GOAT. You are absolutely the GOAT.”

Incoming Duke athletic director Nina King

“What Coach Krzyzewski has done for Duke in 41 years and throughout his coaching tenure is absolutely unparalleled. He’s a legend and an icon, a man of integrity who has always done it the right way, teaching and mentoring so many over the course of his brilliant career.”

Duke President Vincent Price

“On days like today, it can be difficult to come up with the right words to express what Mike Krzyzewski has meant to Duke University, to college basketball, to our community and to our country. So we let the numbers do the talking for us — 1,170 career wins, 5 national championships, 12 Final Fours, 15 ACC Tournament and 12 ACC regular season titles, six gold medals for the U.S. National Team, 37 All-Americans, the list goes on and on; many of them never to be matched now or in the future, except actually by Mike, who will give us one more season of Blue Devil basketball.

“But perhaps the most important number is 15,054. That’s the number of days since Mike Krzyzewski was introduced as Duke’s head basketball coach on March 16th of 1980. And for everyone of those 15,054 days, and for the next 310 or so until the end of next season, Mike has been resolutely and zealously committed to Duke University, to our students and his players, to the principles of integrity, fairness, and inclusion, and above all, to excellence.”

Former Duke star and ESPN analyst Jay Bilas

“It’s the end of an era, and the era being Coach K’s level of excellence for 40-plus years at Duke. We’ve never seen anything like it in the history of American sports. … Whether it’s (John) Wooden or Bear Bryant or you name it, this is going to be the toughest act to follow in the history of sports.”

Former Duke star and ESPN analyst Jay Williams

“I can’t even find the words to describe how I feel about all of this right now. It’s a lot to take in for a man that changed my life in so many ways.”

Former UNC coach Roy Williams

“Mike’s been fantastic for the game of basketball, he’s been fantastic for college basketball, been fantastic for the ACC, for the greatest rivalry in sports, Duke-North Carolina basketball. He’s been a good friend, a guy I’ve respected a great deal. He made everybody bring their ‘A’ game for years and years and years. In the old days it was a little easier. There weren’t as many teams. I can remember when the ACC was a seven-team league, now it’s 15. He’s just been phenomenal in everything he’s done.

“He’s a great family man. He’s going to enjoy his family a great deal. He’ll still be important in college athletics. He’ll still be important in college basketball. … I look forward to talking to him and making sure he’s healthy. That’s the only thing I care about.

“It will be different. But Vic Bubas and Dean Smith left and Duke and North Carolina were still pretty good. Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski are leaving and (basketball is) still going to be pretty good in this area.”

UNC coach Hubert Davis

“Coach Krzyzewski’s career has been awesome. All of his accomplishments have elevated college and USA basketball for so many years. I’m so thankful and privileged that I was able to compete against his teams as a player, as an assistant coach, and now has a head coach this upcoming season. Carolina vs. Duke is the pinnacle of college basketball and the fact that his final game at Cameron will be against the Tar Heels adds more uniqueness and history to this great rivalry.”

ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips

“Mike Krzyzewski continues to be a tremendous ambassador for the sport of basketball. What he means to the countless players he has coached, both collegiately and professionally, is simply immeasurable. His impact over the past five-plus decades is beyond commendable and we look forward to celebrating and honoring both him and Mickie during their final year. As the transition is made, we welcome Jon Scheyer to the incredible head coaching ranks of ACC basketball.”

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim

“Mike’s impact on basketball goes so far beyond the wins his teams have accumulated. He has been a unifying leader for the sport at every level, including college, professional and international. It’s impossible to overstate the positive impact he has had for decades.

“I’ve enjoyed the challenge of coaching Syracuse against his Duke teams over the years  no coach prepares his players for big games better than Mike. I’ll look forward to a few more opportunities to do that next season.”

Harvard coach and former Duke point guard Tommy Amaker

“There are few people who gave the footprint that Coach leaves behind, not only in the game of basketball but also in the world of sports. I’m eternally grateful to him for his wisdom and relationship.”

New York Mets pitcher and Duke graduate Marcus Stroman

“Sad to hear Coach K won’t be coaching Duke basketball after 2022. What a legendary career. Thankful to have had some powerful talks with him over the years. Beyond excited for my man Jon Scheyer to takeover and show his greatness!”