UNC coach Roy Williams brushed aside a question from the media about the possibility of losing his job and told the Raleigh Sports Club Wednesday that he intends to remain the Tar Heels coach for years to come.
“It is a thrill to be here,” Williams told the group. “It’s not a thrill to walk in and see the nice people in the media doing their job, and the first question asked is ‘do you think you’re going to lose your job?’ That’s not the nicest thing that has ever happened to me but that’s the world we live in right now.”
Williams said that even after years in Kansas, he always knew he’d end up back in his home state of North Carolina. “Hopefully I’m going to last another six to 10 years regardless of what some people in the media say,” he said.
Williams has been on the hot seat from those who believe he knew about the academic transgressions involving his players, that he was in on it or that he suspected but didn’t want to find out.
While not admitting to any of those things, Williams conceded that mistakes were made at Carolina.
“We screwed it up,” he said, speaking in general terms about the University. “We made some mistakes, there’s no question about that. Things happened that are so sad and that hurt. It’s unbelievable.”
He said the school is taking actions to correct the errors.
“We’ve had over 20 people lose their jobs,” Williams said. “We’ve made more changes than you can ever imagine.”
He indicated that change isn’t easy. “Now when I decide where I’m going to take the team for a pre-game meal, I check with 12 different committees and all 12 disciples of the Lord,” Williams said. “But change is good sometimes too. We needed to make some changes.”
He said he’s proud of the University of North Carolina. “I’m not happy about what happened,” Williams said. “I’m very sad, very mad about what happened. But I have a wonderful degree from there, as do some of you. I worked for mine and most of our guys did.”
He said he doesn’t know everything that went on but “we’re going to keep fighting.” A Western movie fan, Williams said he could have used John Wayne and Clint Eastwood fighting on his team over the last couple of months.
He related a scene from Rio Bravo where a character played by actor Jack Elam is being criticized by John Wayne in the middle of a gunfight for the weapon he’s using. “You know what Jack Elam said?” Williams asked. “He looked up at him and said, ‘don’t mind if I shoot do ya?’ That’s what the dickens I’m gonna do – if you don’t mind I’m gonna coach my butt off for a long time.”
While defiant, he admits to this being a very difficult time for him. On top of the academic revelations, his wife has had a couple of recent surgeries and a good friend is battling pancreatic cancer. Plus, with the criticisms aimed at his character, he felt the need to address the situation with his children.
“It’s been the most difficult time for me by far,” he said. “Until recently, I’ve never really had to talk to my children and tell them, ‘your dad is the same dad he’s always been. He’s got the same values he’s always had and that’s never going to change.’”