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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 Dean Smith. With a total of 877 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 Dean 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 his 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. In 2006, Williams was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame.
The following year, in 2007, Williams was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
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 North 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.
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 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 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.
He and his wife, Wanda, a 1972 UNC graduate, have a son, Scott, a daughter, Kimberly, and three grandsons. Scott earned a business degree from UNC and was on the Tar Heels' varsity roster 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, North Carolina.
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.
In March 2021, Williams and his wife Wanda donated $3 million to the University of North Carolina, to support various scholarships for UNC. Williams also donated $600,000 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to provide scholarships for an extra year of eligibility for UNC spring sport athletes who had their 2020 seasons cut short.
- Big Eight Coach of the Year (1990, 1992, 1995, 1996)
- Henry Iba Award (1990, 2006)
- The Associated Press 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.
- Naismith College Coach of the Year (1997)
- Big 12 Coach of the Year (1997, 2002, 2003)
- John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award (2003)
- ACC Coach of the Year (2006, 2011)
- Roy Williams was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.
- Williams was named by Forbes as America's Best College Basketball Coach in February 2009
- Sporting News named Williams Coach of the Decade for the 2000s.
- In December 2009 Seth Davis at Sports Illustrated nominated Williams as one of the coaches of the decade.
- USA Today National Coach of the Year (2019)