Williams at a North Carolina press conference
|Born||August 1, 1950|
Marion, North Carolina
|1968-1969||North Carolina (J.V.)|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1973-1978||Charles D. Owen HS|
|1978-1988||North Carolina (assistant)|
|Head coaching record|
|Tournaments||79-26 (NCAA Division I)|
|Accomplishments and honors|
|Basketball Hall of Fame|
Inducted in 2007 (profile)
|College Basketball Hall of Fame|
Inducted in 2006
Roy Allen Williams (born August 1, 1950) is an American college basketball coach for the North Carolina Tar Heels. He started his college coaching career at North Carolina as an assistant coach for Dean Smith in 1978. In 1988, Williams became the head coach of the men's basketball team at Kansas, taking them to 14 consecutive NCAA tournaments, four final four appearances, two national championship game appearances, collecting a .805 win percentage and winning nine conference titles over his fifteen-year span.
In 2003, Williams left Kansas to return to his alma mater North Carolina, replacing Matt Doherty as head coach of the Tar Heels. Since returning to North Carolina, Williams has won three national championships, nine Atlantic Coast Conference conference titles, three ACC tournament championships, one AP National Coach of the Year award, and two ACC Coach of the Year awards. He is third all-time for most wins at Kansas behind Phog Allen and Bill Self, and second all-time for most wins at North Carolina behind his legendary mentor Dean Smith. On January 25, 2020, with a 94-71 win over Miami, Williams reached 880 wins surpassing Smith's 879 win total.
With a total of 881 wins to date, Williams has taken his teams to nine Final Fours in his careers at Kansas and North Carolina. He is the only coach in NCAA history to have led two different programs to at least four Final Fours each and the only basketball coach in NCAA history to have 400 or more victories at two NCAA Division 1 schools. He is also tenth all-time in the NCAA for winning percentage among men's college basketball coaches. In 29 of his 31 seasons as a head coach, Williams has coached his teams to at least 20 or more wins. The other two seasons (his first year at Kansas, and his first year at North Carolina) he coached each of those teams to 19 wins. In 41 years as an assistant or head coach, he has been on a team that reached the NCAA Tournament in every season except 1989 and 2010.
Williams was an assistant coach for Smith when North Carolina won the 1982 national championship. As a head coach, Williams has coached in a total of six NCAA championship games (1991, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2016, and 2017). On April 4, 2005, Williams won his first national title as the Tar Heels defeated the University of Illinois in the 2005 NCAA championship game. He again led the Tar Heels to a national title on April 6, 2009, against the Michigan State Spartans (see 2009 NCAA championship game). Williams won his third national championship on April 3, 2017, when he led the Tar Heels to victory against the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Williams is one of six NCAA Men's Division I college basketball coaches to have won at least three national championships.
Williams was born in Marion General Hospital in Marion, North Carolina, and spent his early years in the small western North Carolina towns of Marion and Spruce Pine. As a child his family relocated to nearby Asheville, where he grew up. Williams lettered in basketball and baseball at T. C. Roberson High School in Asheville, North Carolina, all four years. In basketball, playing for Coach Buddy Baldwin, he was named all-county and all-conference for two years (1967 and 1968), all-western North Carolina in 1968 and served as captain in the North Carolina Blue-White All-Star Game. Williams has stated that Coach Baldwin was one of the biggest influences in his life.
Williams went on to play on the freshman team at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and study the game under coach Dean Smith. When Williams was a sophomore at Carolina, he asked Smith if he could attend his practices and would sit in the bleachers taking notes on Smith's coaching. Williams also volunteered to keep statistics for Smith at home games and worked in Smith's summer camps.
Williams' first coaching job was in 1973 as a high school basketball and golf coach at Charles D. Owen High School in Black Mountain, North Carolina. He coached basketball and boys' golf for five years and ninth-grade football for four years, and served as athletic director for two years.
In 1978, Williams came back to the University of North Carolina and served as an assistant to Coach Dean Smith from 1978 to 1988. During his tenure as assistant coach, North Carolina went 275-61 and won the NCAA national championship in 1982, the first for Smith and the second for North Carolina. One of Williams' more notable events came as assistant coach when he became instrumental in recruiting Michael Jordan.
In 1988, Williams left North Carolina and became the head coach of the University of Kansas Jayhawks, replacing former North Carolina assistant and UCLA head coach Larry Brown, who had taken the position as head coach of the NBA's San Antonio Spurs. He was hired just months after the Danny Manning-led Jayhawks won the 1988 NCAA championship. Weeks after Williams took the position, KU was placed on probation for violations that took place prior to his arrival. As a result, the Jayhawks were barred from postseason play for the 1988-89 season.
Williams coached 15 seasons at Kansas (from 1988 to 2003). During that time he had a record of 418-101, a .805 winning percentage. At the time of his departure, he was second on Kansas' all-time wins list behind only Phog Allen; he has since been passed by current coach Bill Self. Williams' Kansas teams averaged 27.8 wins per season.
Kansas won nine regular-season conference championships over his last 13 years. In seven years of Big 12 Conference play, his teams went 94-18, capturing the regular-season title in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2003 and the postseason tournament crown in 1997, 1998 and 1999. In 2001-02, KU became the first, and so far only, team to go undefeated (16-0) in Big 12 play. In 1995-98, Kansas was a combined 123-17 - an average of 30.8 wins per season. Williams' teams went 201-17 (.922) in Allen Fieldhouse, and won 62 consecutive games in Allen from February 1994 to December 1998. Kansas was a regular in the Associated Press Top 25 from 1991 to 1999, placing in the poll for 145 consecutive weeks. Williams' teams were ranked in the Top 10 in 194 AP polls from 1990.
Kansas led the nation in field goal percentage and scoring in 2002 and in scoring margin in 2003; they held opponents to the lowest field goal percentage in the country in 2001 (37.8 percent); led the nation in winning percentage in 1997 and 2002; shot better than 50 percent from the floor for the season seven times; and led the country in field goal percentage in 1990 at 53.3 percent, and in 2002 at 50.6 percent; shot a combined 49.4 percent from the floor in 15 seasons; led the nation in assists in 2001 and 2002 and was seventh in the nation in 2003; scored 100 or more points 71 times (once every 13 games); averaged 82.7 points per game in 15 years; averaged 90 or more points in two seasons (92.1 in 1990 and 90.9 in 2002). Kansas was also the winningest team of the 1990s, despite failing to win any NCAA championships during the decade.
Williams had Kansas in the AP Top 25 in 242 of 268 weekly polls. Kansas reached the No. 1 ranking in the country in six different seasons and was ranked at least No. 2 in the nation in 11 of the 15 seasons.
Under Williams, the team had several deep runs in the NCAA Tournament, making it to four Final Fours and appearing in the national championship game in both 1991 and 2003, losing both, to Duke and Syracuse respectively. The 1996-97 team featured future NBA players Paul Pierce, Jacque Vaughn, Raef LaFrentz, and Scot Pollard. Entering the NCAA Tournament with Pollard (foot stress fracture) and starting shooting guard (later Kansas and UNC assistant coach, and current head coach at Stanford) Jerod Haase (broken wrist) trying to play with injuries, the team was upset in the Sweet Sixteen by the eventual champion, the Arizona Wildcats.
Except for his first season at Kansas (when the team was on probation), all of Williams' teams made the NCAA tournament. From 1990 to 1999 Kansas compiled a 286-60 record, giving them both the most wins and best winning percentage of any team in that decade. From 1994 to 1998, the Jayhawks won 62 consecutive home games at Allen Fieldhouse, which was the longest such streak in the NCAA at the time. The seniors of 1998 (LaFrentz, Billy Thomas, and C. B. McGrath) went 58-0 at home during their KU careers.
Williams had the opportunity to return to North Carolina in 2000, when Bill Guthridge left the head coaching position vacant. After national media sources such as ESPN prematurely announced Williams would take the position, they quickly backed off as it became clear that Williams' mind was not made up. North Carolina media[who?] continued to report that he had accepted the position. After a week of this back-and-forth, Williams held a press conference at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kansas, where he announced that he was staying at Kansas.
Williams took the 2003 Kansas team to the NCAA championship game against Syracuse. Syracuse defeated Kansas, 81-78, to win the championship. The end of the season brought a cloud of uncertainty over KU, as Williams' future was up in the air. During CBS' exit interview with Williams, he was consistently asked if he was taking the North Carolina job instead of his current Kansas team's effort, eventually inspiring him to say to the reporter "I could give a shit about North Carolina right now" to the live mic. Chancellor Robert Hemenway fired KU Athletic Director Al Bohl, and while he cited Bohl's involvement in an academic scandal at Fresno State, many[who?] perceived the move as a desperate move to keep Williams at KU, as the relationship between Bohl and Williams was very poor. Bohl reacted angrily, accusing Williams of engineering the firing.
"This is a sad day for college athletics when a basketball coach has the power to hire and fire a university's athletic director...He had the choice to either crush me with his power of influence or let me fly with my visions for a better total program. He chose to crush me."
Williams accepted the North Carolina head coaching position following the controversial three-year run of Matt Doherty, who prior to coaching at North Carolina had been an assistant at KU under Williams.
With Williams' return to North Carolina, he became the school's third coach in six years. The previous two coaches -- Matt Doherty and Bill Gutheridge took over after Dean Smith. The Tar Heels were coming off of a mediocre season and two years before had suffered the worst season in school history. Nevertheless, the team still had top talent, including McDonald's All Americans Sean May, Rashad McCants, and Raymond Felton. In Williams' first season as the Tar Heels' head coach, the 2003-04 season, North Carolina finished a respectable 19-11 and returned to the national rankings for the first time since the early part of the 2002-03 season. They were knocked out in the second round of the NCAA tournament by Texas.
In Williams' second year, the Tar Heels returned to national prominence. With the arrival of freshman Marvin Williams, Williams led North Carolina to a National Championship in 2005, which was his first national title as a head coach.
After winning the championship, the team's top seven scorers all left, either via graduation or opting to go to the NBA early. Despite the loss of talent, the Tar Heels proved to be surprisingly successful in 2005-06, in part due to freshman Tyler Hansbrough. Williams was named Coach of the Year for his ability to turn around such a new team to such a high level of success.
Williams quickly reloaded the team with top talent, bringing in recruits like Brandan Wright, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Deon Thompson. The 2006-07 team tied as ACC regular season champions, earning the tiebreak over the Virginia Cavaliers. With the #1 seed, the Tar Heels won the ACC Tournament. After earning a #1 seed in the East Region in the 2007 NCAA Tournament, Williams' team won its first-round game against Eastern Kentucky Colonels 86-65 and its second against Michigan State 81-67. North Carolina then defeated the USC Trojans 74-64 to advance to the Elite Eight. On March 24, 2007, North Carolina fell to the Georgetown Hoyas in overtime in the East Regional, ending its post-season run. Following the 2006-2007 season, Williams announced on July 18, 2007, that he had vertigo, a condition that occasionally forces him to sit down suddenly during games.
The 2007-08 season was just as successful, culminating in another ACC regular season and tournament championship. Williams led the Tar Heels to a school-record 36 wins, the #1 overall ranking in the final AP poll, a #1 seed in the East Region of the tournament, the tournament's overall #1 seed, and the 2008 Final Four. The Tar Heels' run ended with an 84-66 loss in the Final Four to Kansas, Williams' former team. Two days after the defeat, he attended the tournament final between Kansas and Memphis, sporting a Jayhawk sticker on his shirt. As a result of Memphis' 2008 season being wiped from the books due to NCAA sanctions, the 2007-08 Tar Heels "officially" have the second-most single-season wins in Division I history.
With Tyler Hansbrough returning to Chapel Hill for his senior season, they were tapped by numerous prognosticators as the favorites to win the NCAA championship. The Heels started the season #1 in both polls--including the first-ever unanimous preseason #1 ranking in the history of the AP Poll--becoming the first team to have back-to-back preseason #1 rankings since UNLV in 1991. They won their first 13 games before being upset by Boston College 85-78. Two games later, they fell at ACC rival Wake Forest 92-89, but went on a winning streak, including a defeat of archrival Duke by 101-87, Williams' fourth straight victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium. In defeating Duke 79-71 in the season finale, the Tar Heels secured their third straight ACC regular season title and fourth in Williams' six seasons as head coach at UNC. Although they lost in the second round of the ACC Tournament to Florida State, they still garnered the top seed in the NCAA South Region--the fourth time in Williams' six-year tenure in Chapel Hill that the Tar Heels had been a #1 seed. North Carolina defeated Radford in the first round of the NCAA tournament, then LSU in the second round, and Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 round, followed by a 72-60 defeat of the Oklahoma Sooners in the Elite 8 that gave North Carolina its second straight berth into the Final Four in Detroit, Michigan. An 83-69 victory over Villanova vaulted the Tar Heels into the national championship game. They played the Michigan State Spartans in the National Championship game and Williams won his second title with an 89-72 victory. This capped off one of the most dominating runs in the history of the tournament. The Tar Heels only trailed for a total of 10 minutes out of a possible 240 minutes of playing time. They also won every game by at least 12 points--all the more remarkable since they upended four teams in the top 15 of the final AP Poll (#10 Gonzaga, #7 Oklahoma, #11 Villanova and #8 Michigan State).
North Carolina finished the regular season at 16-15, dropped to third in all-time wins, and bowed out in the first round of the ACC tournament. The Tar Heels did not receive a post-season tournament bid by the NCAA--the only time in Williams' coaching career that his team didn't take part in that tournament when eligible to do so. However, they did receive a bid to the NIT. The Tar Heels made it to the NIT championship game versus Dayton, which was played on April 1, 2010, at Madison Square Garden. The Tar Heels lost by a score of 79-68, bringing their overall tally to 20-17 for the 2009-10 season. This 20-win season however kept Williams' streak of 20-win seasons alive. Williams stated that the season was "the biggest frustration and the biggest disappointment of my professional life". In addition to frustrating play, Williams was criticized for comparing the season to the disaster in Haiti by stating, "Our massage therapist told me, she said 'You know, Coach, what happened in Haiti is a catastrophe. What you're having is a disappointment.' And I told her that depends on which chair she was sitting in, because it does feel like a catastrophe to me, and that's because it is my life." Williams later apologized for his comments, stating that he misspoke and "neglected to say that it puts basketball in perspective."
The Tar Heels started out slow during the 2010-11 season, dropping early games to Minnesota, Vanderbilt, and Illinois, and also being blown out by twenty points at Georgia Tech. It was not until Williams made the difficult decision to start freshman point guard Kendall Marshall over junior Larry Drew II that the Tar Heels returned to their dominant winning ways. The Heels won the ACC Regular Season Championship after beating Duke in their final regular season game in Chapel Hill. It was Carolina's fifth ACC Regular Season title in eight years under Coach Williams. However, Carolina lost to Duke a week later in the ACC Tournament Championship game. Coach Williams was selected as the ACC Coach of the Year for the second time since becoming head coach at North Carolina for overcoming the adversity of losing some players to transfer and dismissal and winning the ACC regular season title. After defeating Long Island, Washington, and Marquette, the Heels (29-8, 14-2) lost to the Kentucky Wildcats in the Elite Eight.
The 2011-12 season for the Tar Heels was more successful despite numerous injuries to key players. With losses to UNLV, Kentucky as well as a 33-point defeat against Florida State, Williams guided his Heels to another ACC Regular Season Championship after defeating Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium to close out the regular season (Duke won the first meeting in Chapel Hill). UNC entered the 2012 ACC Tournament as the #1 seed. The Heels beat Maryland in the quarterfinals and NC State in the semifinals. John Henson injured his wrist in the Maryland game and did not play in the semifinals or championship game where UNC lost to Florida State, 85-83. UNC was then awarded the #1 seed in the Midwest bracket of the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Without Henson, Dexter Strickland and sixth-man Leslie McDonald (who were both sidelined with season-ending injuries) Carolina beat Vermont in the second round of the Tournament. Henson returned to the lineup for the third-round game against Creighton. The Heels defeated Creighton, however starting PG Kendall Marshall injured his wrist in the second half of that game. Marshall had to undergo surgery and was unable to play for the rest of the season. Carolina turned to first-year PG Stilman White who helped lead the Heels to an OT win over the Ohio Bobcats in the Sweet 16. Carolina then faced #2 seed Kansas in the Elite Eight. Greatly undermanned, the Heels played Kansas close but Kansas pulled ahead late for the win. Roy Williams' 2011-2012 team finished the season with a record of 32-6, 14-2 in the ACC.
The 2012-13 season for Roy Williams and his Tar Heels was a great surprise with respect to a new starting lineup in the latter half of the season. Unlike traditional Carolina teams, the Heels played more guard heavy and relied mostly on their perimeter game to score points. Coach Williams reached 700 total NCAA career head coaching victories after the Tar Heels beat Villanova in the opening round of the tournament. Unfortunately, the Tar Heels were not able to advance after a 70-58 loss to Kansas in the round of 32. It marked the third time Carolina had lost to the Jayhawks during March Madness since 2008. The Tar Heels completed their season with 25 wins and 11 losses (overall) including 12 wins and six losses against conference opponents.
The 2013-14 season for the Tar Heels ended with a round of 32 loss to Iowa State in the NCAA Tournament after narrowly slipping past Providence in the opening round. The overall record ended up 24-10, which included a 13-5 conference record.
Wooden Award candidate Marcus Paige  came back for his junior season. With early season losses to unranked Butler and Iowa, the Tar Heels intensity and strength were questioned.[by whom?] The Tar Heels grabbed a four seed in the NCAA Tournament with wins against Harvard and Arkansas, but ended their run with a loss to Wisconsin in the Sweet Sixteen. The Tar Heels finished their season 26-12 with an 11-7 ACC record.
During the 2015-16 season, Williams guided the Tar Heels to their fourth Final Four of his tenure, as well as winning the regular season and ACC Tournament titles.
In the 2016 NCAA Tournament, North Carolina beat Florida Gulf Coast, Providence, Indiana, and Notre Dame, and Syracuse in the Final Four, to earn a spot against Villanova in the national championship game. North Carolina lost 77-74. The Tar Heels completed their season with a 33-7 overall record.
Williams led his Tar Heels to their second consecutive ACC regular season championship. Justin Jackson won ACC Player of the Year. In the 2017 NCAA Tournament, North Carolina defeated Texas Southern 103-64, Arkansas 72-65, Butler 92-80, Kentucky 75-73, Oregon 77-76 and Gonzaga 71-65 to win its third national title in the Roy Williams' era. The Tar Heels completed their season again with a 33-7 overall record.
On February 12, 2018, in a North Carolina home win against Notre Dame, Williams garnered the same number of wins (418) in the same number of seasons (15) that he accumulated at Kansas.
UNC lost 86-65 to Texas A&M in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.
Despite a slow start to the season, North Carolina had another impressive ACC conference record in the Williams era. After a dismal 21 point loss to the Louisville Cardinals, the Tar Heels would lose only one more game, finishing the regular season 26-5 overall, 16-2 in the ACC, tied atop the conference with the Virginia Cavaliers. Season highlights include a sweep of rivals Duke and North Carolina State as well as going 9-0 in conference road games. Adding great and consistent offensive production during the season, Coby White averaged 16.1 PPG in his freshman year as a Tar Heel. Williams was named the USA TODAY Sports National Coach of the Year.
The Tar Heels made it to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA tournament before falling to 5 seed Auburn 97-80.
On November 27, 2019, Williams tied Adolph Rupp for 5th in all-time wins with his 876th career victory after a win over Alabama 76-67. He took sole possession of 5th place in all-time wins with his 877th victory with a 78-74 win over Oregon two days later in the consolation game of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
On December 30, 2019, Williams tied Dean Smith for 4th in all-time wins with his 879th career victory after a win over Yale 70-67.
On January 6, 2020, Williams came under fire for calling his 2019-2020 team the "least gifted" team he has ever coached. After losing to Clemson at home for the first time ever he told reporters he deserved to be fired.
On January 25, 2020, UNC defeated Miami in Chapel Hill 94-71. The victory brought Williams to a total of 880 career wins, moving him past Smith and placing him fourth on the NCAA's all-time Division I coaching wins list, behind only Bob Knight, Jim Boeheim, and Mike Krzyzewski.
He and his wife, Wanda, a 1972 Carolina graduate, have a son, Scott, a daughter, Kimberly, and three grandsons. Scott earned a business degree from UNC and played point guard for the Tar Heels in 1997-98 and 1998-99. Kimberly was a member of the UNC dance team in 2000 and 2001 and owns The Dance Spot in Huntersville.
In 2009, Algonquin Books published Williams' autobiography, "Hard Work: A Life On and Off the Court," co-written by Tim Crothers. In the book, Williams discusses his life, including that of his difficult childhood, the highs and lows of his successful coaching career and the difficult and agonizing decision to leave Kansas for North Carolina in 2003.
Williams had surgery September 19, 2012 to remove a tumor from his right kidney.
|Kansas Jayhawks (Big Eight Conference) (1988-1996)|
|1989-90||Kansas||30-5||11-3||T-2nd||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|1990-91||Kansas||27-8||10-4||T-1st||NCAA Division I Runner-up|
|1991-92||Kansas||27-5||11-3||1st||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|1992-93||Kansas||29-7||11-3||1st||NCAA Division I Final Four|
|1993-94||Kansas||27-8||9-5||3rd||NCAA Division I Sweet 16|
|1994-95||Kansas||25-6||11-3||1st||NCAA Division I Sweet 16|
|1995-96||Kansas||29-5||12-2||1st||NCAA Division I Elite Eight|
|Kansas Jayhawks (Big 12 Conference) (1996-2003)|
|1996-97||Kansas||34-2||15-1||1st||NCAA Division I Sweet 16|
|1997-98||Kansas||35-4||15-1||1st||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|1998-99||Kansas||23-10||11-5||T-2nd||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|1999-00||Kansas||24-10||11-5||5th||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|2000-01||Kansas||26-7||12-4||T-2nd||NCAA Division I Sweet 16|
|2001-02||Kansas||33-4||16-0||1st||NCAA Division I Final Four|
|2002-03||Kansas||30-8||14-2||1st||NCAA Division I Runner-up|
|Kansas:||418-101 (.805)||175-49 (.781)|
|North Carolina Tar Heels (Atlantic Coast Conference) (2003-present)|
|2003-04||North Carolina||19-11||8-8||6th||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|2004-05||North Carolina||33-4||14-2||1st||NCAA Division I Champion|
|2005-06||North Carolina||23-8||12-4||2nd||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|2006-07||North Carolina||31-7||11-5||T-1st||NCAA Division I Elite Eight|
|2007-08||North Carolina||36-3||14-2||1st||NCAA Division I Final Four|
|2008-09||North Carolina||34-4||13-3||1st||NCAA Division I Champion|
|2009-10||North Carolina||20-17||5-11||T-9th||NIT Runner-up|
|2010-11||North Carolina||29-8||14-2||1st||NCAA Division I Elite Eight|
|2011-12||North Carolina||32-6||14-2||1st||NCAA Division I Elite Eight|
|2012-13||North Carolina||25-11||12-6||3rd||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|2013-14||North Carolina||24-10||13-5||T-3rd||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|2014-15||North Carolina||26-12||11-7||5th||NCAA Division I Sweet 16|
|2015-16||North Carolina||33-7||14-4||1st||NCAA Division I Runner-up|
|2016-17||North Carolina||33-7||14-4||1st||NCAA Division I Champion|
|2017-18||North Carolina||26-11||11-7||T-3rd||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|2018-19||North Carolina||29-7||16-2||T-1st||NCAA Division I Sweet 16|
|North Carolina:||463-148 (.758)||199-85 (.701)|
Postseason invitational champion
Several former players and assistant coaches of Williams have gone on to their own careers in coaching.
(*) indicates a former player who also served as an assistant coach to Williams.