North Carolina coach Roy Williams has no plans to go anywhere any time soon, he said on Wednesday, and he's still planning on coaching the Tar Heels for perhaps the next decade.
“Hopefully I'm going to last another six to 10 years regardless of what some people in the media say,” Williams said during his appearance as the guest speaker at the Raleigh Sports Club.
When Williams stepped out of his car and tried to walk inside on Wednesday, a news reporter from a television station was waiting for him. The reporter, Williams said later, asked him if he was worried about being fired among the revelations of the Wainstein report – the independent investigation that detailed an academic and athletic scandal that lasted for nearly two decades.
“That's not the nicest thing that's ever happened to me but that's the world we live in right now,” Williams said of facing questions about his job security.
He has had to face questions about everything else in recent weeks. His character. His integrity. And, especially, how much he knew about bogus paper classes in the African- and Afro-Studies Department that helped keep athletes – many of them basketball players – eligible during his first several years as the head coach at UNC.
Williams has denied knowing the details of what Kenneth Wainstein, the former U.S. Justice Department official who led the investigation in the AFAM irregularities, has described as a “paper class scheme.” Nonetheless, Williams has faced plenty of public scrutiny given that basketball players accounted for an unusually large percentage of the enrollments.
Members of UNC's 2005 national championship team, in particular, took a large number of paper classes. During the 2004-05 season, basketball players accounted for 35 enrollments in the paper classes, which didn't meet and resulted in high grades for suspect work.
“We screwed up,” Williams said on Wednesday. “We made some mistakes. There's no question.”
As he has several times before, Williams on Wednesday expressed shock and sadness at the conclusions of the Wainstein report.
“It's unbelievable,” he said.
Yet he also spoke with determination to “keep fighting,” as he described it, to overcome the mistakes of the past.
“If you don't mind,” Williams said, “I'm going to coach my butt off for a long time.”
For six to 10 more years, at least, he hopes.
Andrew Carter is the UNC athletics beat reporter for The News & Observer and Charlotte Observer. Follow him on Twitter at @_andrewcarter .