Former North Carolina men’s basketball coach Roy Williams has watched the collegiate landscape go through rapid changes in recent months, telling ESPN that the developments in name, image and likeness rules, realignment, and the transfer portal, among other changes, have permanently diminished the power of the NCAA.
“It’s changing so dramatically,” Williams recently told ESPN. “I think the NCAA is just not going to be the same. It’s just not. Who knows how it’s going to develop? The days of those people in Indianapolis saying, ‘1, 2, 3 and 4,’ and everyone just falls in line … that’s not happening. Some of it’s good and some of it’s not so good. But they aren’t running things anymore. It is a rapidly changing world out there, and who knows what’s going to be next.”
Williams, who surprised even his players when he decided to retire on April Fools’ Day, lamented the spate of conference realignment, which most recently was kicked off in July by Oklahoma and Texas planning moves to the SEC.
“How about the schools just all of a sudden deciding, I think I’ll leave this conference and I’ll go here?” Williams said. “I’m thinking, ‘My gosh. What’s happening to college athletics?'”
There was speculation that the changes Williams described is why he decided to leave the game. Williams said, however, that’s not true.
“You ask about the name, image and likeness, transfer portal. I knew there were some things that I might not enjoy as much as I had in the past, but truthfully, people have a hard time believing it: [The changes] had nothing to do with my decision,” he said.
Williams said he left when he felt like the Tar Heels needed a new voice, adding, “I no longer felt that I was the right person for this job. I just didn’t feel like I’d gotten my guys to buy in as much as I’d gotten them to buy in in the past. I knew I never wanted to cheat my players or my school.”
Williams has played a lot of golf since retiring but also is spending time promoting the sport. He is an ambassador for the 2021 Asheville Championship, in Asheville, North Carolina, which begins Friday with Minnesota facing Western Kentucky (6:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU) followed by South Carolina against Princeton (9:30 p.m., ESPNEWS).
The former coach said his role with the Asheville Championship gives him a chance to stay close to the game. He said he doesn’t want any official role in college basketball right now but looks forward to watching from a distance.
“It will allow me to still be from a distance, distance, distance, distance … a way to be involved in the game a little bit,” Williams said about his ambassador role. “I’ve told many people, there has not been one morning where I didn’t wake up and say, ‘Oh my gosh, what did I do?’
“… I’m enjoying thinking about sitting there and watching the games and seeing those teams and then trying to watch them later throughout the rest of the regular season and seeing how they move on and how they grow and grow together and how they improve. That part I’m going to enjoy.”