Some men coach, and some men are Coaches. Roy Williams, the current head coach at the University of North Carolina is, without any question a Coach. Not only has he coached different sports, but also succeeds. The title of his autobiography is “Hard Work: A Life On and Off the Court”.
Born in Marion, North Carolina, Smith moved around a lot as a child. For High School, Williams’ family relocated to Asheville, North Carolina. In Asheville, Williams would go to High School at T.C. Roberson High School and lettered in both baseball and basketball. After winning multiple accolades in basketball, as well as playing in the annual North Carolina Blue-White All-Star Game as a senior. Williams was also named captain for his team.
While at Carolina, Williams would learn from one of the greatest coaches in NCAA history: Dean Smith. Williams was so impressed with Smith that he asked to watch game tape and observe practices (Smith was coaching the varsity team while Williams played for the junior varsity team.) Williams also worked at Smith’s annual summer camps.
Upon graduating with a degree in Education, in 1972, Williams went to Charles D. Owen High School in Swannanoa, N.C. where he would coach basketball, Golf and football, as well as serve as the school’s Athletic Director. After five years, he went back to the University of North Carolina to serve as an assistant coach under Smith. During the 1982 season, the Tar Heels, featuring future NBA stars James Worthy, Sam Perkins and a then freshman Michael Jordan would win the NCAA championship, giving Williams his first taste of college hardware. It would be far from his last.
Williams’ first high profile coaching stop was the University of Kansas in 1988. He replaced another Smith assistant, Larry Brown, who had left to coach the San Antonio Spurs. What was also unique about the position was that the Jayhawks had won the National Championship right before Brown’s departure. Unfortunately for Williams, the NCAA levied sanctions against the University of Kansas for events that had taken place prior to his arrival.
Over the next fifteen years at Kansas, Williams would never miss a postseason tournament. Williams also won 9 conference championships during his tenure.
Another impressive accomplishment that Williams achieved was amassing a 68 game home winning streak at the Allen Fieldhouse. Williams is considered b many fans to be the best University of Kansas coach since Phog Allen.
Despite all of this success, Williams still had yet to win the big one: an NCAA National Championship. He had however came close, finishing up the season in the Final four in 2001-02 and as the runner up, to Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans, in the 2002-03 season.
In 2003, after 15 years that the University of Kansas, Williams took the head coaching position at his alma mater.
Williams was first linked to the position at the University of North Carolina, in 2000. After the retirement of Bill Guthridge, ESPN reported that Williams had was, offered and had accepted the position. After a week of speculation, Williams announced that he would stay at Kansas.
The situation only worsened after William’s team lost to Michigan State in 2003. Immediately after the game, Williams was asked about taking the North Carolina job by CBS reporter Bonnie Bernstein. This lead to one of the most memorable outbursts. “I don’t give a shit about North Carolina. I care about those thirteen kids in the locker room.” University of Kansas fans believed that speculation during the tournament was uncalled for a distracting to the Jayhawks. To add more substance to the accusation, the Tar Heels fired their coach Matt Doherty, right before the Final Four. Williams later apologized for his outburst and when asked if his former coach and mentor Smith would “be disappointed, but he understands.”
No matter how he got there, Carolina welcomed Williams. He was immediately liked, not only because of his record at Kansas, but also he was perceived as a one of “Dean Smith’s” guys as well as a UNC alumnus. In his first season leading the team, Williams would win the national championship with future NBA players Marvin Williams (no relation), Rashad McCants, Raymond Felton.
After another string of winning seasons, Williams found himself in the hunt for another national title in the 2009 season. With UNC legend Tyler Hansbrough leading the way Carolina beat Michigan State to win Williams’ second national title. This season, the Tar Heels struggled, yet Williams still won 20 games. To this point, Williams has won 20 games in all but two seasons as a coach.
On February 10th 2010 Williams came under fire for his comments comparing a North Carolina losing streak to the earthquake in Haiti. Reportedly, after a Carolina loss a member of the team’s training staff tried to make Williams see the brighter side of things by pointing out that there had been a catastrophe in Haiti. Williams replied that “depends on what chair she was sitting in. Because it does feel like a catastrophe to me, because it is my life.” Williams would eventually apologize for his comments 2 days later.
Williams has had experience coaching NBA players. At the 2004 Summer Olympic games in Athens, Williams served on the team’s staff helping lead them to a bronze medal. Ironically, the head coach of the United States team was Larry Brown.
Off the court, Williams is active in the community. He and his wife Wanda, have contributed $200,000 dollars to the Carolina Covenant, an organization that allows students to attend the university debt free.
Williams is a participant in the alumni charity pro basketball game. Another way that Williams raises money is by participating in charity golf events. Ironically, in 2009, Williams would trip during an event and require shoulder surgery.
Roy Williams has won national championships, and coached at two of the most revered programs in NCAA history. Williams has nothing left to prove, only the desire for success. He knows it will take hard work, and he welcomes the challenge.