Sidelines with John Clay

North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams says reporter should “step lightly around my friends”

North Carolina head coach Roy Williams speaks during a college basketball news conference, Saturday, March 26, 2016, in Philadelphia. North Carolina defeated Notre Dame on Sunday in the regional finals of the men's NCAA Tournament to earn a trip to the Final Four this weekend in Houston.
North Carolina head coach Roy Williams speaks during a college basketball news conference, Saturday, March 26, 2016, in Philadelphia. North Carolina defeated Notre Dame on Sunday in the regional finals of the men's NCAA Tournament to earn a trip to the Final Four this weekend in Houston. The Associated Press

Kent Babb of the Washington Post wrote a feature story on North Carolina coach Roy Williams, painting the picture of an aging coach who has been frustrated by personal health issues and a public investigation into his school’s academics. Wednesday, Williams took issue with the story while at the same time validating some of its assertions.

Williams has guided North Carolina into this weekend’s Final Four in Houston, but he has had trouble with his knees, experienced a case of vertigo on the sidelines and continued to claim that he had no knowledge of the academics-athletics scandal in which the university allegedly listed fake classes that helped athletes stay eligible.

An excerpt from Babb’s story:

“The North Carolina coach was in no mood for nonsense, or “junk” or “stuff,” as he often refers to the one topic he wishes would disappear forever: the slow-moving, ever-darkening cloud of uncertainty caused by an academic scandal that has been looming over the Tar Heels’ athletic department, in one form or another, for almost five years.

Williams has had a particularly close relationship with his current team. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

It could, depending on whom you ask, lead to sanctions of North Carolina’s athletic program or — eventually — just blow over. But don’t ask Williams about that, either. Not here and not now, when he has his top-seeded Tar Heels chasing their fourth Final Four appearance since 2005. He’s not going there.”

Several of Williams’ friends are quoted in the story and on the Dan Patrick radio show Wednesday morning, Williams said those friends were upset with what was in the story. Very upset.

Said Williams, “I tried to treat this lightly because I could deal with it much more strongly I think. I haven’t read it, I have two of my very close friends that were so mad that if they were to step in front of that guy in the street it would be a bad scene because they felt like the guy lied. I started to try and say it nicely but one of my guys said I never said anything like that. It’s upset all my friends and I haven’t read it … don’t care to read it, never will read it. He better step carefully around any of my friends because my high school coach is one of the most finest gentle men I’ve ever known in my life and one of my assistants who’s [been] with me for 21 years and they are so mad at that guy.”

As for the academic scandal, NCAA president Mark Emmertt told USA Today last week that “sometime in the relatively near future we’ll move toward a resolution.”

NCAA Final Four

Saturday, April 2

6:09 - Oklahoma vs. Villanova (TBS)

8:49 - North Carolina vs. Syracuse (TBS)

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