North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams retires at the age of 70

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The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) has announced the retirement of men’s basketball coach Roy Williams, who is stepping down at the age of 70 after leading the program to three NCAA titles.

The decision was announced on Thursday, two weeks after Williams ended his 18th season as Tar Heels head coach with a loss to Wisconsin in the first round of the current NCAA tournament.

Williams, who worked as an assistant in North Carolina under the legendary Dean Smith, has won 903 games in his 33 years as a head coach with the Tar Heels and Kansas Jayhawks. Under Williams, UNC won national titles in 2005, 2009 and 2017.

North Carolina has scheduled a press conference on campus on Thursday afternoon.

The University of North Carolina has announced the retirement of and's basketball coach Roy Williams, who is stepping down at the age of 70 after leading the program to three of six NCAA titles.

The University of North Carolina has announced the retirement of and’s basketball coach Roy Williams, who is stepping down at the age of 70 after leading the program to three of six NCAA titles.

Roy Williams (center) in the photo between former Tar Heels stars Sam Perkins (left) and Michael Jordan (right), whom he coached as UNC assistant under school legend Dean Smith

Roy Williams (center) in the photo between former Tar Heels stars Sam Perkins (left) and Michael Jordan (right), whom he coached as UNC assistant under school legend Dean Smith

Roy Williams (center) in the photo between former Tar Heels stars Sam Perkins (left) and Michael Jordan (right), whom he coached as UNC assistant under school legend Dean Smith

The North Carolina native has coached many NBA superstars, both as an assistant and head coach. While working under Smith at Chapel Hill, Williams worked with future NBA stars such as Michael Jordan, James Worthy and Sam Perkins.

Later, with Kansas, Williams coached other future pros such as Paul Pierce, Raef LaFrentz, Scot Pollard, Greg Ostertag, Rex Walters, Kirk Hinrich, Drew Gooden, Nick Collison, and Jacque Vaughn.

Williams was hired to replace struggling Matt Doherty at UNC in 2003 and won his first-ever NCAA title in his second season on a team with Raymond Felton, Sean May and Rashad McCants.

UNC lost to Wisconsin in the first round of the NCAA tournament in its last game, which was Williams’ only first-round loss in 30 tournaments.

Stadium’s Jeff Goodman reported that Williams’s decision is not unexpected and may be linked to major changes within college basketball.

Namely, Goodman said, Williams is concerned about new transfer rules, which will allow players to move from one school to another without being forced to serve out for a year, as they once had. Due to the disappearance of the regulations, players have switched more often.

Williams is also reportedly concerned that players will be given the right to sell rights to their name, image and likeness for profit – an increasingly likely possibility currently under discussion everywhere from the NCAA to the United States Supreme Court.

“There has been speculation that Roy Williams would be retiring in recent weeks,” Goodman tweeted. He is 70 years old and is frustrated with the direction college basketball is heading, according to sources. One of those areas has been rushed wire transfers lately, also concerned about NIL. ‘

Williams took over for Kansas after Larry Brown flew to the NBA in 1988.  Under Williams, the Jayhawks did not win a national title, but remained one of the best NCAA teams in the country.

Williams took over for Kansas after Larry Brown flew to the NBA in 1988.  Under Williams, the Jayhawks did not win a national title, but remained one of the best NCAA teams in the country.

Williams took over for Kansas after Larry Brown flew to the NBA in 1988. Under Williams, the Jayhawks did not win a national title, but remained one of the best NCAA teams in the country.

Even Duke, UNC's bitter rival, paid tribute to Williams after Thursday's announcement

Even Duke, UNC's bitter rival, paid tribute to Williams after Thursday's announcement

Even Duke, UNC’s bitter rival, paid tribute to Williams after Thursday’s announcement

Former Duke center and ESPN analyst Jay Bilas called Williams `` one of the truly best coaches of all time, in any sport. ''

Former Duke center and ESPN analyst Jay Bilas called Williams `` one of the truly best coaches of all time, in any sport. ''

Former Duke center and ESPN analyst Jay Bilas called Williams “ one of the truly best coaches of all time, in any sport. ”

Stadium's Jeff Goodman reported that Williams's decision is not unexpected and may be linked to major changes within college basketball

Stadium's Jeff Goodman reported that Williams's decision is not unexpected and may be linked to major changes within college basketball

Stadium’s Jeff Goodman reported that Williams’s decision is not unexpected and may be linked to major changes within college basketball

Williams spent 10 seasons at his alma mater as an assistant coach to late mentor Dean Smith before leaving in 1988 to take over the Jayhawks program. He spent 15 seasons there, taking Kansas to four Final Fours and two national title games.

He took over at UNC in 2000 after Bill Guthridge’s retirement, but eventually couldn’t say no a second time, returning as a coach in 2003 after the tumultuous Matt Doherty era with an 8-20 season.

Williams immediately stabilized the schedule and broke through for his first national championship in his second season with a win over Illinois, marking the first of five Final Four trips with the Tar Heels. His second title came in 2009 with a team rolling through the NCAA tournament, winning every game by at least a dozen points, including the last game against Michigan State played in the Spartans’ home state.

The third title was taken by a team of players who lost the 2016 championship game to Villanova on a buzzing 3-pointer. This time, the Tar Heels defeated a Gonzaga team with one loss to the championship.

Williams won three Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament titles with the Tar Heels after winning seven league titles with the Jayhawks.

Along the way, Williams only had one losing season – an injury-plagued 14-19 years in 2019/20 – otherwise he only missed the NCAA tournament in his first season in Kansas when he inherited a program on trial and in 2010 with a UNC. team that reached the NIT finals.

Michael Jordan talks to University of North Carolina coaches Roy Williams, Center, and Dean Smith after being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame at Symphony Hall in Springfield, Massachusetts, Friday, September 11, 2009

Michael Jordan talks to University of North Carolina coaches Roy Williams, Center, and Dean Smith after being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame at Symphony Hall in Springfield, Massachusetts, Friday, September 11, 2009

Michael Jordan talks to University of North Carolina coaches Roy Williams, Center, and Dean Smith after being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame at Symphony Hall in Springfield, Massachusetts, Friday, September 11, 2009