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UNC Men's Basketball Coach Roy Williams Retires After More Than 3 Decades

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Roy Williams says it's time to say goodbye. The legendary college men's basketball coach is retiring. Here's North Carolina Public Radio's Dave DeWitt.

DAVE DEWITT, BYLINE: Fans of UNC Chapel Hill basketball like to talk about the Carolina family, the group of former players and coaches that started with legendary coach Dean Smith and includes icons like Michael Jordan. On Thursday, Roy Williams stepped down as the program's leader.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ROY WILLIAMS: It has been unbelievable. I've loved it. It's coaching. And that's all I've ever wanted to do since the summer after my ninth grade year in high school.

DEWITT: Williams came to UNC as an undersized, hardworking teenager from Asheville. He played junior varsity basketball, served as a student assistant and then as an assistant coach. He even sold team calendars in the summer to supplement his then middling salary. After 10 years as an assistant, Williams took the head coaching job at Kansas. In 2003, a few years after Dean Smith had retired, Williams was the top candidate to take over at Carolina. A CBS reporter asked Williams about it right after Kansas lost the national title game.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WILLIAMS: I got to think that in tough times that people should be more sensitive. I could give a [expletive] about North Carolina right now.

DEWITT: That sentiment was short lived, and a few weeks later, Williams left Kansas to come back home to Chapel Hill. He won three national titles in 18 years and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WILLIAMS: I've been the luckiest guy alive. My family at home, my family on the court, no one has been more fortunate than me.

DEWITT: Williams ends his career as the third-winningest men's division one college basketball coach ever. North Carolina did not announce a possible replacement. Many fans will demand it be someone else from the Carolina basketball family, but it will be impossible to find someone with blood as blue as Roy Williams.

For NPR News, I'm Dave DeWitt. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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