COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WJZ)—Goodbye to Garyland. After more than two decades as the top Terp, University of Maryland men’s basketball coach Gary Williams is retiring.
Kelly McPherson explains the impact this stunning announcement is having across the state.
Gary Williams is one of a few college coaches to return to his alma mater and bring home the NCAA Championship. Twenty-two years of his familiar face courtside ends now.
“I’m absolutely shocked,” said DJ Scheckelhoff, a University of Maryland junior. “I did not see this coming at all.”
“I grew up watching him as a kid, and it was a really big surprise,” said Brian Romanowski, senior.
“I was upset, ’cause I really didn’t see it coming,” said Magnus Iweh, sophomore.
“It sucks,” said Roberto Aleman, sophomore. “‘Cause he’s awesome.”
In a statement Thursday, the coach said: “It’s the right time. My entire career has been an unbelievable blessing. I am fiercely proud of the program we have built here. I couldn’t have asked any more from my players, my assistant coaches, the great Maryland fans and this great university. Together, we did something very special here.”
He’s walking away from a $430,000 state salary; his total compensation in one year is $2 million.
Governor Martin O’Malley issued this statement:
“I’d like to thank Gary Williams for over 20 years of dedication to the University of Maryland, College Park men’s basketball team and for his devotion to his alma mater. Gary’s leadership and outstanding coaching and recruiting abilities have developed the talents and skills of some of today’s best athletes, and helped them to become great professionals and individuals with confidence and character – on and off the court.
“In 2001, he led the Terps to their first Final Four in school history; and in 2002, they brought home an NCAA National Championship. Though it will be difficult to imagine men’s basketball at College Park without Gary Williams, we certainly wish him much success in the future.”
A majority of the current students have spent their entire lifetime watching Williams, and thought his reign would never end.
“I’m shocked. I figure he’d be here…not forever but for a few more years,” said Rob O’Connell, senior.
“I’m really upset about it,” said Liza Cornfield, freshman. “I’ve been a fan since I was born. I don’t know. I’m really sad. I hope we can be good next year.”
And some students in College Park wonder what next season will look like.
“It completely changes the experience here,” Scheckelhoff said. “I don’t even know if we’re going to be a basketball school anymore.”
“It’s going to be quite a surprise; quite a different scene out there,” said Romanowski.
So the big question now is who will take over?
Reports out of Chicago say Notre Dame’s Mike Brey has been contacted. Others who will be considered candidates include Villanova’s Jay Wright and Shaka Smart at Virginia Commonwealth. A local candidate is Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos, who says he’s happy at Loyola but Maryland is his dream job. He was an assistant to Williams for 13 seasons in College Park.
Williams will join Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson and University President Dr. Wallace D. Loh at a press conference on Friday, May 6 at 1 p.m. in Comcast Center. The public is encouraged to attend.