Roy Williams had said it before, and he said it again on Tuesday: His retirement isn’t imminent at North Carolina.
“I hope to coach till I can’t,” Williams said, speaking at an end-of-season news conference eight days after his team’s 77-74 April 4 loss to Villanova in the national championship game.
Williams’ future became a topic at the Final Four in Houston, where some national media members questioned whether Williams, who has encountered the most difficult years of his career, might consider retiring. Williams attempted then to put an end to those questions.
And if he wasn’t clear enough in Houston, he tried to be clearer Tuesday when he received another inquiry about his future. This time, his answer came with something of a timeline.
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“I guess for four years I said I wanted to coach six to 10 more years,” Williams said. “And I thought it was silly to say that four years ago and still say it (now). So I went down one. I said I hope to coach five to nine more years. That’s what I said in a home (while recruiting) last week.
“And so that’s all I can say.”
Williams this season had to answer more questions about his future than perhaps at any other point in his career. His age has something to do with it. He’ll turn 66 this summer.
The questions, though, are also a product of Williams’ circumstances. He has endured several health challenges in recent years, from a cancer scare in 2012 to continued vertigo attacks – one of which forced him to miss most of the second half of a victory at Boston College in February – to the problems with his knees that have limited his mobility.
Williams on Tuesday said he’s considering surgery to replace both of his knees. Then there’s everything else that has worn on him recently: the deaths of several people close to him, including Dean Smith, and the lingering NCAA investigation that has cast a shadow over Williams’ program.
Amid it all, though, Williams said he has no plans to go anywhere. At least not anytime soon.
“If I were going to quit,” Williams said, “I sure as the dickens wouldn’t have seen four kids in an 18-hour period (of recruiting) last Thursday and Friday.”