He is second all-time for most wins at Kansas behind Phog Allen, and third all-time in the NCAA for winning percentage. He earned his 400th win in January 2003, when Kansas beat the University of Wyoming. Coach Williams won his 500th career game against High Point University on December 9th, 2006 in Chapel Hill. On April 4, 2005, Williams shed his title as "the most successful coach to never have won a NCAA ring" as his Tar Heels defeated the University of Illinois in the 2005 NCAA Championship game.
Early years and personal info
Williams was born and spent his early years in the small western North Carolina towns of Marion and Spruce Pine. As a child his family relocated to Asheville, N.C., where he grew up. Williams lettered in basketball and baseball at T. C. Roberson High School near Asheville 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 went on to play junior varsity basketball at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and study the game under legendary coach Dean Smith. Williams graduated in 1972 with a Bachelor's Degree in Education and later received an M.A.T. in 1973 from UNC. Williams and his wife Wanda, also a 1972 Carolina graduate, have a son, Scott, and a daughter, Kimberly, both of whom are UNC alumni. The Williams family has contributed $200,000 to the Carolina Covenant, an initiative at UNC that allows low-income students to attend the University debt-free. Roy and Wanda serve as honorary co-chairs of a $10 million campaign to endow the program.
Early coaching years
Williams' first coaching job was in 1973 as a high school basketball and golf coach at Charles D. Owen High School in Swannanoa, N.C. He coached basketball and boys' golf for five years, ninth-grade football for four years, and served as athletic director for two years. In 1978, Williams came back to UNC and served as an assistant to Coach Dean Smith. During his tenure as assistant coach, UNC went 275-61 and Williams played a role in recruiting Michael Jordan.
Years as head coach at Kansas
In 1988, Williams left UNC and replaced former UNC assistant and UCLA head coach Larry Brown, who took the position as head coach of the NBA's San Antonio Spurs, as the head coach of the University of Kansas Jayhawks. He was hired just months after the Danny Manning-led Jayhawks unexpectedly won the 1988 NCAA championship. Weeks after taking the position, KU was placed on probation for violations that took place prior to his arrival.
Williams coached 15 seasons at Kansas (from 1988-2003). During that time he had a record of 418-101, a .805 winning percentage. Williams's Kansas teams averaged 27.8 wins per season. Except for his first season at Kansas (when the team was on probation), all of Williams' teams made the NCAA tournament.
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. From 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.
Leaving Kansas for North Carolina
Williams was faced with 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 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 NCAA championship. The end of the season brought a cloud of uncertainty over KU, as Williams' future was up in the air. Chancellor Robert Hemenway fired KU Athletic Director Al Bohl, and while he cited Bohl's involvement in an academic scandal at Fresno State, many 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 ended up accepting the UNC head coaching position following the tumultous three-year run of Matt Doherty. Some of the Kansas players who Williams recruited were quite upset at his departure for UNC. Wayne Simien, a native Kansan and lifelong Kansas fan before becoming a standout for the Jayhawks from 2001-2005, was perhaps the angriest. "I gave my right arm for that man," Simien said in the days after Williams' announcement, referring to a shoulder injury Simien had sustained during Williams' final season at KU.
Kansas NCAA Violation
In July, 2005, KU released a report stating that they had violated an NCAA extra benefit rule during Williams' tenure. The violations involved Williams' approval of alumni graduation gifts being given to Kansas basketball players after their eligibility was exhausted. In at least one case the gift was cash included with a congratulatory greeting card.
Williams responded to the charges by issuing a statement admitting he made a mistake in telling a donor he could mail small graduation gifts to players leaving the program. "I personally felt this was not a problem and evidently a communication problem led me to believe this was okay with our compliance department. Therefore, I told the alum a small gift would be okay. I also stated the gift shouldn't be extravagant and there should be no campaign for this--just a personal graduation gift...I did not know the rule that, 'Once you are a student-athlete, you are a student-athlete until death,'" Williams said. Williams said he never approved gifts provided by boosters and instead directed them to the compliance department for clarification of rules. Williams also said that the gifts in the three specific instances were for purchasing lifetime memberships to the university alumni association and the purchase in one instance of a suit of clothes for an individual.
When asked whether there was any thought to imposing penalties on Williams for approving these small gifts, Gene Marsh, chair of the NCAA infractions committee, said that there was not. Marsh said, "There is testimony from the coach who said, 'I believe I checked with compliance (to see if graduating gifts were allowed). It's my understanding this is okay.' There are people in compliance who can't recall the call and so I would say that is more or less where we left it (with) some confusion. Clearly the former coaches weren't the only ones who had some confusion whether those kind of gifts were permissible. It seems to be a belief that existed in the department among several people who knew that those gifts were being made..."
According to a local newspaper dated July 16, 2005, "No sanctions were imposed against men’s basketball."
Years as head coach at North Carolina
Roy Williams has been the head coach of UNC since 2003. When Williams came to Carolina, the Tar Heels were coming off of a moderate season and two years before had one of their worst season in thirty years. Nevertheless, the team still had top talent including McDonald's All Americans Sean May, Rashad McCants, and Raymond Felton. In his first season, UNC finished 19-11 and were knocked out in the second round of the NCAA tournament by Texas.
Williams was able to turn the team around in his second season. With the arrival of freshman phenom Marvin Williams and a more focused Tar Heel squad, Williams was able to coach Carolina to a National Championship in 2005. After winning the championship, Williams had to deal with the departure of the team's top seven scorers. Most thought that 2005-06 would be a down season for Williams, but the Tar Heels proved to be surprisingly successful in part due to the help of the 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 Ty Lawson, and Wayne Ellington. 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 86-65 and its second against Michigan State 81-67. On March 24, 2007, UNC fell to Georgetown University in overtime of the East Regional, ending its post-season.
Roy Williams was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame on April 1, 2007.
Williams has won the AP Coach of the Year award twice. He was first honored in 1992 with the Kansas Jayhawks. He was recognized at North Carolina in 2006, as he had a surprisingly successful season after losing 96% of the 2005 championship squad's scoring productivity. He is only the seventh coach in history to win the award twice and the second to do it at two different schools.
Williams received the John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award from the Los Angeles Athletic Club in April 2003.
Williams won more games in the first 15 seasons of his coaching career than anyone else in NCAA history.
Williams is the 12th coach to lead two schools to the Final Four and the third (with Larry Brown and Frank McGuire) to direct two schools to the championship game.
Williams is tied for sixth all-time in NCAA Tournament wins with 42 and has an NCAA postseason win percentage of .724, fourth-best among active coaches. Seven of his teams have been seeded No. 1 in a region in NCAA play.
Williams has coached a team to 30 or more wins six times, which equals the second-most in NCAA history. He has won 20 or more games 16 times in 18 years (winning 19 in his first seasons at Kansas and Carolina), including 14 straight seasons at Kansas, a streak that equaled the third longest in NCAA history.
He was the third-fastest coach in history to reach 300 wins and fourth fastest to 400. He reached 500 wins in his 19th season, faster than any other Division I coach. He has won more games than any coach after eight, nine, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 seasons as a head coach. He is the second-winningest Jayhawk coach in history behind Smith's college coach, Phog Allen.
Williams earned National Coach of the Year honors at Kansas in 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1997 and was Big Eight/Big 12 Coach of the Year seven times (1990, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2002 and 2003). The New York Athletic Club presented him with its National Coach of the Year award in 2005. He received the John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award in 2003 from the Los Angeles Athletic Club.
Williams helped coach Team USA to a bronze medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece with fellow UNC alumnus Larry Brown.
Williams is the winningest active coach by percentage among coaches with at least 10 years experience. His teams have a 524-130 record, a win percentage of .801.
Williams captured his 100th overall victory since coaching in the ACC on March 4, 2007, against the Duke Blue Devils.
Williams is the second-fastest ACC coach to reach 100 victories.
Williams has won at least one game in the NCAA Tournament for 18 consecutive years (all-time record).
Williams reached 500 wins faster than any other NCAA basketball coach.