It’s been about a week and a half since Gary Williams retired from his head-coaching post at Maryland, and he hasn’t been hasty in jumping to his first opportunity outside of the coaching business. That doesn’t mean he’ll be sitting around the next time the Terrapins tip off.
Williams spent more than two decades building Maryland into a competitive program in the ACC, and then nationally. He won a National Championship in 2002, capping off back-to-back appearances in the Final Four. But now that he’s handed the reins over to Mark Turgeon, he’s got to find something else to do.
The 66-year-old says part of the reason he got out is because he’s still young enough to look into working at other opportunities and his competitive edge and need to stay busy will have him doing something here pretty quickly.
Gary Williams joined ESPN 980 in Washington D.C. with The Sports Fix to discuss how much he’ll miss coaching, why he didn’t retire a year ago, his friends being supportive of his decision to retire, his opportunities going forward, the achievement that he’s most proud of and the advice he gave to Mark Turgeon who took over at Maryland.
How much will he miss coaching at Maryland after 22 years?:
“I’ll miss it, there’s no doubt about it. I think the biggest thing for me was just getting the program where we could be competitive in the ACC because at that time that’s when the ACC was getting six or seven teams in the tournament every year and they were all good programs. You couldn’t just leapfrog programs because you got a little better, you had to go beat some people.”
Is it true he almost retired after losing on a buzzer-beater in the 2010 NCAA Tournament?:
“I thought about it after that year. That game, I look at it the other way, the fact that he did make that shot and didn’t give us a chance to advance, probably motivated me. I’ve always looked at that as a coach, the only way you can handle a situation like that is to come back and try to get better. That probably motivated me to stay, but that was as tough a shot as ever was made against me.”
Did he have friends or colleagues who tried to talk him out of retiring before he made the announcement?:
“No, they were all pretty good. I had about three or four people I could really lean on and keep it in house and not say anything. Realistically, I’m 66 years old. If Jim Calhoun retires, which he might do before the start of the season, [Jim] Boeheim and I would be the two oldest coaches in Division I at the BCS level. … I really felt that if I was going to do anything else, and I still don’t know exactly what’s out there … now’s the time.”
What does he want to do going forward?:
“That’s what I have to find out. I’m going to work for the university, do some fundraising and things like that, some special-event-type things. … But there’s other things out there, media-wise, things like that, that I’ve always looked at. Over the years you watch and learn from other people, like you guys, and see what’s out there. … I have to stay doing something. I’m not coaching basketball anymore, but I’m a long ways from retiring.”
Does he see himself calling games or being more of a studio analyst?:
“I’m not sure because I’ve never done that before. … I have to look at that. Obviously the games would require more travel. I’ve traveled a long time with basketball and a lot of it’s been really good, but I don’t know how much traveling I’d like to do at this point. I’m trying not to make any quick decisions.”
What’s the achievement he’s most proud of?:
“It’s just getting the program back where we could be competitive with the top teams in the country. And taking the program where it never was before, first the Final Four and then the national championship. … I don’t know if it’s the area we live in, or whatever, but you get tired of hearing about the other schools and you know you’re as good as those other schools. A lot of the time you’re not in an isolated area like Lawrence, Kans., or a place like that. There seems to be more reasons to have detractors and that was great, because at the end of the 2002 year, nobody could say anything at that point.”
His thoughts on Mark Turgeon taking over at Maryland:
“The ACC has this thing that no other conference has with Duke and Carolina up there all the time. The thing is, I tried to assure him that, you won’t do it every year, but you can be competitive with those guys, given really coming in and working hard. That’s the thing I liked about Mark the best it he knew the challenge and was ready to come in here and work hard.”