Emotional Gary Williams says goodbye

After 22 years at Maryland, veteran coach officially walks away

May 06, 2011|By Don Markus, The Baltimore Sun

COLLEGE PARK — Garyland is officially closed for business.

Amid cheers, tears and one final fist pump, longtime Terrapins basketball coach Gary Williams announced his retirement Friday after 22 seasons at the University of Maryland.

Before a large crowd at Comcast Center made up of students, friends, supporters as well as former and current players, Williams made it clear that he went out on his own accord following months of deliberating.

Admitting that it was a difficult decision, Williams said it was "the right time". Saying that he could still coach, Williams said "you start to really think there are some other things out there."

Williams said that this week's decision by sophomore star Jordan Williams to leave for the NBA did not factor in to his own decision. Friends say that Gary Williams' recent marriage might have had more of an impact.

Williams leaves as the fifth active winningest coach in Division I, with 668 wins, including a school-record 441 at Maryland that included winning the national championship in 2002 over Indiana at the Georgia Dome as well as the school's first ACC tournament title in 20 years in 2004.

Among those who attended Friday's ceremony, which included a video montage going back to his childhood in South Jersey, were former stars Walt Williams and Tony Massenburg, as well as longtime assistant Billy Hahn (now at West Virginia) and Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti.

The ceremony was halted several times as the fans in the stands stood up and shouted Williams' first name, and at other times stopped as Williams tried to gain control of his own emotions.

At one point, he joked as he choked on his words and the fans started to cheer, "You better hold that. It might not be the last time that happens."

First-year university president Wallace Loh credited Williams for the reason in Maryland's rise in stature, as well as for helping raise $240 million in scholarship money. Loh said that he is fully supporting the campaign to name the court after Williams.

"The key factor in the rise of the university is Gary," Loh said.

First-year athletic director Kevin Anderson also had kind words for Williams, and quickly shot down a reporter's question about how quickly the university would act in finding Williams' successor.

"This moment is for Gary and I won't be discussing that," Anderson said.

Anderson said after the news conference that he would have more time to find a successor for Williams than he did in quickly naming a new football coach to replace Ralph Friedgen.

But Williams said, "Things will be moving very quickly here. Do whatever you have to do to make that happen."

Among those being mentioned as possible candidates at Maryland include Arizona coach Sean Miller, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey and Villanova coach Jay Wright.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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