Wisconsin v North Carolina

Source: Gregory Shamus / Getty

North Carolina coach Roy Williams, one of the winningest coaches in college basketball history, has decided to retire after 33 seasons.

The news announced by UNC Thursday morning came after Williams’ 18th season as coach of the Tar Heels. Williams’ won three national championships at North Carolina, along with nine Final Four appearances over the course of his legendary career which included a 15-year run at Kansas.

Williams, 70, retires with 903 wins which was fourth on the all-time list of active coaches behind Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (1,170), Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim (1,083) and Saint Joseph’s Jim Calhoun (917). The only coach in NCAA history with over 400 wins at two different schools (485 at UNC, 418 at Kansas) for an overall record of 903-264 (.774).

Williams graduated from North Carolina in 1972 and set out on a coaching career. He returned to his Alma Mater in 1978 for a 10-year stint as an assistant coach under Dean Smith, winning a national championship in 1982. From there, Williams moved on to take his first head coaching position with Kansas, earning National Coach of the Year honors with the Jawhawks in two separate decades.

At the time of his departure from Lawrence, Kan., he was second on Kansas’ all-time wins list behind only Phog Allen, and has since been passed by current coach Bill Self. Williams’ Kansas teams averaged 27.8 wins per season without a national championship.

In 2003, Williams returned to Chapel Hill to take over for Matt Doherty. The Tar Heels notched seven 30-win seasons with Williams at the helm, earning three ACC Championship during that time. He won his 900th game earlier this year, becoming the fastest coach to reach the milestone in NCAA Division I history. The three National Champion wins for Williams are the most by any coach in UNC history. He was induced into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

“Congratulations on an amazing career at Kansas and North Carolina,” Doherty said about Williams’ departure after 48 years of coaching. “You won the right way and impacted many lives, including mine— Thank you. Enjoy your time with Wanda and the family. You deserve it.”

Doherty’s college teammate and Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan told the Associated Press that Williams is and will always be a “Carolina Basketball legend.”

“His great success on the court is truly matched by the impact he had on the lives of the players he coached— including me,” said Jordan. “I’m proud of the way he carried on the tradition of coach Smith’s program, always putting his players first. I wish Roy all the best in retirement and look forward to catching up with him on the golf course sometime soon.”

Williams plans to address the public during a news conference this evening.