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Roy Williams will retire as UNC head basketball coach, university announces

Roy Williams will retire as UNC head basketball coach, university announces

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UNC Naismith Hall of Fame Head Coach Roy Williams through the Years as seen through the lenses of Journal photographers.

North Carolina's Roy Williams is retiring after 33 years as a Division I basketball coach.

UNC made the announcement on social media at 10:19 a.m. Thursday.

Williams, 70, guided his alma mater to three NCAA championships and will leave with a 903-264 record as a head coach at Kansas and North Carolina. His record at UNC was 485-163.

The 2007 Naismith Hall of Fame inductee will address the media on Roy Williams Court at the Dean E. Smith Center at 4 p.m. Thursday. The news conference is closed to the public, but will be streamed at GoHeels.com.

Williams, a 1972 UNC graduate, just concluded his 18th season as the Tar Heels' head coach. UNC went 18-11, including a loss to Wisconsin in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

In addition to NCAA titles in 2005, 2009 and 2017, Williams led UNC to a 485-163 record, two other Final Fours, nine ACC regular-season championships and three ACC Tournament crowns.

While the April Fool's Day timing of the announcement that Williams was retiring came as a surprise, his decision to leave a game in flux was not a total shock.

The proliferation of players leaving school early to enter the NBA draft and the NCAA's transfer portal have made it more difficult for Williams and other coaches to build depth in their programs and develop players over three or four years. The COVID-19 pandemic, which brought the 2019-20 season to an abrupt end and impacted this season in numerous ways, made things even more challenging and the NCAA's decision to give players an extra year of eligibility added to the volatility of rosters.

Freshman forward Day'Ron Sharpe has entered his name into the 2021 NBA draft, and center Walker Kessler and forwards Sterling Manley and Walker Miller — the younger brother of UNCG coach Wes Miller — have entered the transfer portal just since the end of the Tar Heels' season.

With Williams' retirement, the next question is who will athletics director Bubba Cunningham choose to succeed him as UNC's coach. Since Dean Smith took over the program in 1961, the job has been held by someone in "the family," either a former player or Tar Heels assistant coach.

Among the names that have been mentioned this year as potential successors are: UNCG's Miller, a former Tar Heels player who guided the Spartans to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in four years and has won at least 20 game for five straight seasons; UNC assistant coach Hubert Davis, a former Tar Heels player who was working for ESPN when Williams added him to his staff; Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse, who played two seasons under Smith; and Stanford coach Jerod Haase, who played under Williams at Kansas before serving on Williams’ UNC staff from 2003-09.

Contact Joe Sirera at 336-373-7034, and follow @JoeSireraSports on Twitter.

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