Head Basketball Coach - Roy Williams
Thomas Wolfe who is generally regarded as one of our greatest contemporary writers and a native of Ashville once lamented "you can't go home anymore." Roy Williams basketball coach and owner of the best winning record among NCAA Division I active coaches in the country is also a native of Ashville who either never read Wolfe's lament or didn't believe it. In April of 2003 Williams returned to the University of North Carolina, his basketball home, as the Tar Heels new head basketball coach.
Prior to returning to his basketball roots at UNC Williams had been at the University of Kansas where in 15 seasons he had established himself as one of a handful of premiere NCAA Division I mens college basketball coaches in the country.
Almost immediately upon Williams arrival at Kansas University the Jayhawks became a feared and respected team in the world of Division I basketball. In 15 seasons his Jayhawk teams compiled an incredible record of 410-101 (.802) winning percentage. Williams winning percentage at KU ranks him first among all active coaches and third in the history of college basketball.
The Williams led Jayhawks won a remarkable 20 or more games in consecutive seasons his last 14 years at KU. Perhaps even more remarkable is the Jayhawks at home record where they went an incredible 201-17 (.922) in the cozy confines of Allen Fieldhouse where they enjoyed a 62 consecutive home game winning streak stretching over four plus seasons.
Over Williams tenure at KU his teams averaged almost 28 wins per season and enjoyed five 30-win seasons. Another remarkable record, one of solid consistency, is the Jayhawks 94-18 (.839) record in conference (Big Twelve) play.
In the previous 13 seasons prior to Williams departure the Jayhawks won nine regular season conference titles. When the Big Eight expanded to the Big 12 KU reeled off an impressive 94-18 (.839) record, won the regular season title four times and the postseason tournament three times. The Jayhawks were the first Big 12 team to post a 16-0 record in league play.
NCAA postseason tournament aka "Big Dance" time in the spring of each year was a time of rejoicing at KU. In Williams 15 seasons at KU the Jayhawks went to the "Big Dance" in all but his first year at KU, in other words 14 remarkable seasons in a row.
Williams led the Jayhawks as far as the Championship game twice and the Final Four on 2 occasions. KU coached by Williams went as far as the Sweet 16 four times and were stopped at the Elite Eight once. The Williams led Jayhawks own a 34-14 (.708) NCAA postseason tournament record which puts him in 6th place on the all time winningest list for active coaches participating in 10 or more NCAA postseason tournament games.
While examining Williams NCAA tournament record it should be noted that his KU Jayhawks went to the Final Four in consecutive years, the first time KU had done this since legendary KU Coach Phog Allen turned the trick in the early 50's.
Under Williams the Jayhawks became a fixture in the AP Top 25 poll. Between 1991 and 1999 KU was in the poll for 145 consecutive weeks. Since 1990, Williams second season at Kansas, the Jayhawks were ranked in the Top 10 in 194 AP polls. The Jayhawks have been ranked at least number 2 in the country for 11 out of Williams 15 seasons and have enjoyed the number 1 ranking in six different seasons.
Seventeen of Williams Jayhawk players have earned first team all-conference honors. He has coached seven first team All-America players and five conference player of the year winners. He has had two Jayhawks voted the best player in the country by the NABC and has coached four KU Jayhawks to consensus first team All-America honors. Ten of Williams Jayhawk players have been first round NBA draft picks.
Williams was honored as National Coach of the Year four times while at Kansas and was named the Big Eight/Big Twelve Coach of the Year seven times. He received the prestigious John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching award from the Los Angeles Athletic Club in 2003 joining an illustrious group including such luminaries as Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski and Lute Olson.
In his first season at UNC the Tarheels went 19-11 (.633) overall and 8-8 (.500) in conference (ACC) play. Williams Tarheels made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament where they lost to Texas by (3) points.
Dean Smith, the venerated University of North Carolina coach and Williams mentor when he served as an assistant to Smith for 10 seasons at UNC, lives on in many of Coach Williams programs.
The KU Jayhawk players were not only exemplary on the floor but off the floor as well. The Jayhawks ran the fast break to perfection, played unselfishly, were patient to set up good shots, used a tenacious man-to-man defense and respected Williams tenet that academic success was not only important but a priority. To this end 31 KU Jayhawks earned first-team academic all conference honors and three players were named first-team Academic All-America honors.
Certainly winning basketball games at KU was one of the hallmarks of Roy Williams program. Another and more important aspect is he runs a "clean program". In his fifteen seasons as the Jayhawk's mentor there was no scandal. Bill Lyons writing for the Philadelphia Inquirer said it best when he wrote: "(Williams) does not throw furniture during games. He does not profanely accost referees. He does not scream and snarl into the sweaty perplexed face of a 19-year-old who is doing the best he can. Not so much as a whiff of scandal has touched the Kansas program during his tenure."
Mighty high praise indeed from an unlikely, yet knowledgeable source. Is Williams the only coach to enjoy this reputation? - No - Is he in the minority? in these days and times it certainly seems so; many have been caught sullying their institution and their own reputation, its safe and sad to say many more will be.
Williams has coached four USA Basketball teams either as an assistant coach or head coach. His latest international basketball1 assignment has Williams as an assistant coach to Larry Brown, ironically the coach he succeeded at Kansas, with the U.S. Olympic Men's Basketball Team.
He is on the board of directors of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, and served as president in 2001-02. Additionally, Williams served on the NCAA basketball rules committee for six years, chairing the committee in 2000-01.
Williams earned two degrees from the University of North Carolina -- a bachelor's degree in education in 1972 and an M.A.T. in 1973.
Williams and his wife, Wanda, have two grown children, a son, Scott, and a daughter, Kimberly.
Some of his accomplishments are: