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.

Comments (13)
  1. david says:

    In a word, WOW!…Now we all know why there are two Williams going at the same time.

  2. Anon says:

    Gary is awesome

  3. Freezy says:

    What an incredible career Gary! You are one of the great legends of college hoops. Your sweaty rants on the sidelines will be sorely missed. Go TERPS

  4. Jeff says:

    Now I don’t have to hear him reference his 2002 championship when asked why his recruiting has been horrible over the last 6 years. Next years team does not look good. Maryland needs to make a big splash. There are a couple coaches that come to mind. Brad Stevens of Butler would be the biggest splash in college basketball if they could pry him away.

  5. ron says:

    he cant recruit period. maryland has not had a big name in years

  6. osborne 19 says:

    Thank you Gary for all that you have done for Md over the course of a stellar career.Words can’t explain how much you will be missed.

  7. Terp Fan Starting Now says:

    A legend in his ability to down scotch. What a miserable human being. I look forward to the next chapter in Terp basketball

    1. Billiam says:

      Don’t bother becoming a fan – we don’t want your sorry sarcasm and bandwagon cheerleading.

  8. Samuel A. Zervitz says:

    It is more than likely, after the football coach was somewhat rudely dismissed, and rumors surfaced that the hoop coach’s job was uncertain, Gary decided to spoil the athletic director’s clean sweep by leaving on his own. Something hasn’t been quite palatable since this new AD arrived. And just maybe the recent controversy between Gary and Yow at North Carolina State had the more public relations-minded Terp adnministrators viewing Gary and his poor season as the right time to dispatch their legend. That Gary left on his own terms says it all about siomeone for whom going out a winner on his own etrms meant everything. Now let the AD sweat a little. “Fridge” and Gary were Maryland guys all the way. It’s probable “Fridge” wishes he’d seen the writing on the AD’s scorecard and left the way Gary did.

    1. Michael says:

      It’s probably more realistic that with Jordan Williams entering the NBA draft, Coach Williams saw that there wouldn’t be a big name or glimmer of hope for the starting five for our Terps basketball this season. After the recruiting class diminished and J. Williams now being gone, there is even less hope for prospected recruits to come here in the near future. My take is that he decided to “Abandon Ship” now before he is faced with five straight losing seasons or so which would tarnish his career records and inflated self image.

  9. Michael says:

    GO DUKE !!!!

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