North Carolina head coach Roy Williams announced his sudden retirement Thursday morning.
The decision came as a surprise to virtually everyone in the college basketball world, including Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who released a statement later Thursday afternoon.
“Like everyone, I was surprised to read today’s announcement about Roy Williams’ retirement," Krzyzewski wrote. "College basketball is losing one of its greatest coaches and a man who genuinely cares about the game of basketball, and more importantly, the people who play it. Roy has led two iconic programs as a head coach and did so in exemplary fashion. I have the utmost respect for Roy and his family, who represented themselves and their institutions with class, grace and humility. While we were on opposite sides of college basketball’s greatest rivalry, we both understood how lucky we were to be part of it and always tried to represent it in the way it deserved.
"Personally, I will miss competing against him, seeing him at coaches’ meetings and having the opportunity to discuss how to make our game even better. Roy is a great friend, and our sport was very fortunate to have him as long as it did. We have all benefitted from his longevity in and commitment to coaching. His legacy is secure as one of the greatest coaches in college basketball history.”
Krzyzewski and Williams first matched up as head coaches in 1989 in Cameron Indoor Stadium, when Williams was the head coach at Kansas. They met again in the 1991 NCAA Championship Game and two more times in the NCAA tournament in 2000 and 2003, respectively, before Williams left Kansas and took the North Carolina job prior to the 2003-04 season, setting up nearly two decades of annual bouts between the two Hall of Famers.