May 6, 2011
University President Dr. Wallace Loh
"As I look at this audience today I see current players and former players. I see trustees and regents. I see students, alumni, and members of the community. The fact that so many of you are here tells us that what we're here to do is not only to say thank you and goodbye to one of the greatest coaches of all time, we're also here to celebrate somebody who represents the heart and soul of this University and who represents the best of the Terrapin character.
"What makes Gary so beloved and such a power influence at this University for the past 20-plus years? First and foremost, in my view, he is a teacher. He cares deeply for the success of his student-athletes, and he always maintains high ethical standards and plays by the rules.
"He brings an extraordinary passion and fierce competitiveness to everything that he does. He is an incredibly loyal alumnus and has great love for the University of Maryland. His generosity to this University in terms of his giving of resources, of his time, of his dedication, is unequalled.
"And in addition what he has done for this University for the past 22 years is really remarkable. The front porch is the most visible part of the house and intercollegiate athletics is the front porch of this University, the most visible part. What has happened over the past 20 or so years at this University is that we have become a great public research university. Great in academics, great in the arts, and great in athletics. We have risen dramatically over the last 20 years to national prominence and impact and the key factor in the rise of the University of Maryland is Gary.
"So today we may say goodbye to an iconic coach, but we are not saying goodbye to Gary Williams. I am absolutely thrilled that he will remain as an assistant athletic director, special assistant to Director Kevin Anderson, to continue the role he has played so magnificently as an ambassador to this University. He has co-chaired the scholarship committee of the `Great Expectations' campaign, a one billion dollar campaign. We have recently surpassed the $800 million mark and he was instrumental in raising $240 million in scholarship money for Maryland students.
"Gary, I will close with this. You are a champion on the court, and a champion in the community. Your legacy here will live forever. So therefore in the coming weeks I will join Kevin Anderson in accepting his recommendation and recommending to the Board of Regents of this University that this basketball court be named in your honor.
"I want to relay the thanks of President Brit Kirwan. He wanted me to say to you in public how proud he is that he hired you and how grateful that he is for all that you have contributed to this university. Thank you Gary."
Director of Athletics Kevin Anderson
"Gary has made it great to be a Terp. We're here today to celebrate a great man, a great father, a great grandfather, and a terrific coach. I've had the opportunity to work with some pretty special people but no one's more special than Gary Williams. He's more than a coach. He's a teacher, he's a friend, and he's a wonderful, wonderful human being.
"... In Jim Collins' book he talks about two kinds of leaders and two kinds of people. One he tells about a time teller who has wonderful talent he can tell time day or night, dark or light. But when that person leaves us there's no one left to tell time. Then he tells about the clock builder, the person who builds the clock, the person who leaves something for the rest of us so that we can tell time for the ages, and that we all have a tool that is important to our life. This is what Gary's done for the University of Maryland, and this basketball program, this athletic department. Gary, thank you for being our clock builder."
Head Coach Gary Williams
"This is my decision. I have read a lot of things and I want to say this is my decision. Not a quick decision, but a decision I have thought about for awhile. I would like to thank the students. They have been unbelievable. Our fans, alumni and people who have supported this program over the years have been incredible. I think sometimes you don't get the credit because of where we are and the popularity of the professional teams. I get a chance to see a lot of different places and campuses, and it's incredible to see what our fans do. I have appreciated that over the years. This has been fun for me.
"Woodrow Wilson High School in New Jersey is where I started. Lafayette College was next, where I was also an outstanding soccer coach. Everyone always laughs when I say that. My first coaching job was at American University with an athletics director by the name of Robert Frailey who took the chance and hired me. At Lafayette, the only reason I got to be a college coach was a fellow named Tom Davis who was a great coach and won over 600 games in various places hired me as an assistant. I went to Ohio State University and then here to Maryland. Each place is different but each place is great.
"For everyone, especially the students, there are a lot of great people out there, you have to find them but there are good people who can make your life a lot better. You have to take advantage of them. I feel as if I could still coach, but I realize there are other things out there. I started coaching at age 23. Each year you know your schedule, you know the recruiting period and everything is programmed into your life. This gives me a chance while I am still healthy to do some things and see what's out there. I have never really looked at anything else. It gives me the opportunity to do that.
"Here at Maryland specifically I have had some great friends, and you see a lot of them here today. I won't go into naming them but a lot of great friends after 22 years are my former players, which is tremendous. When you have great friends, they keep you grounded. They don't let you get too cocky but they are there if you need them. That's the best friends when they aren't afraid to tell you when you screw up. This University, I talk a lot about it and I am proud to do that. This is a great University. Universities are made up of a lot of different things. We are a public research university and that means we do a lot of great things for the rest of the world. It really upsets me when anyone makes fun of our University. No place is perfect and we are a great University.
"I have great confidence in the future of the basketball program because of these gentlemen sitting here (President Loh and Kevin Anderson). It's not about supporting a player or a coach. It's about supporting the Maryland basketball program. I'm looking forward to working with Kevin Anderson in any way I can help. The bottom line is this program is in capable hands. Our current players are going to do an outstanding job. I am very confident we can have a program for everyone to be proud of in the future. There is no doubt in my mind that Kevin (Anderson) will hire a great coach and things will be moving very quickly here.
"There is a great deal of satisfaction that I have reached as a basketball coach. One thing that for all of my players and coaches that I am very proud of is that over the past 12 years we have the second most wins in ACC games behind Duke going into this past season. What that means is we can attract good enough players to come here and compete with anyone in the country and ACC. It's not just because of the coach. It's because of everyone involved that you get that consistency. It comes from a school, player and coaches that care. That is going to continue because Kevin Anderson is going to make that happen. Thank you very much for coming out today. It was great to see everybody. Thank you very much."
On his legacy:
"There have been a lot of things for me that are personal about this. Probably the one thing that went through the whole spectrum about coming here is that we weren't really good when I came here, and we had to work very hard to become good. I wasn't sure if I had gotten into a situation where I couldn't accomplish something. The way I handled that is by working extremely hard. I'm not a genius, so the only thing I knew how to do was continue to work hard. That is what we had to do in '89, '90, '91 and '92 to get things out of the hole we were in. We went from being in there to winning the national championship, so that is what I hope I am remembered for."
On his relationship with former players:
"They feel sorry for the old guy. I talked to Greivis Vasquez yesterday, and I told him I was going to kick his butt if they didn't win the next game, so things haven't changed much. With former players, the thing you try to do as a coach is make sure while we are trying to win basketball games and get better that we also learn to take responsibility for what they are. If you are supposed to rebound, you rebound. If you are supposed to pass, you pass, and I think you benefit from that in life. I'm demanding as a coach but I hope they received lessons that they can use after they get out of our basketball program."
On Jordan Williams' decision to go to the NBA:
"Jordan Williams had no effect in my decision. I've had great players, like Tony Massenberg who played in the NBA for 16 years, Walt Williams, Keith Booth, all of those guys are different people and you can't lump them together. I've told guys like Steve Francis, Chris Wilcox and Joe Smith to leave early, and I've told guys like Steve Blake and Juan Dixon to stay for four years. All you do as a coach is recruit somebody, and you tell the player and the parents that you will do what is in the best interest of the player. Obviously I don't know everything, but I try to help a player as much as possible. And that's what I did with Jordan and his parents. They came to the decision to go to the NBA, and that's their decision. Obviously, we wish Jordan the best and hope he is very successful in the NBA."
On his successor:
"I'd like to see someone who accomplishes a great deal in the future. You find out as time goes by that anything you do benefits the University. Whatever the new coach does with the program will help this University. I have a ton of confidence that that will happen. He will have the cooperation of the University, and Kevin Anderson and Wallace Loh will make sure that happens. I've had my time. I had a job for 43 years in coaching, not many coaches are able to do that. When I came into the league, Dean Smith was at North Carolina, and since then, there have been three other coaches there. I've had my time, and I'm fortunate for everything. So now, these guys up here (President Wallace Loh and Athletic Director Kevin Anderson) are good at what they do, and they will be here to support the next coach."
On the University of Maryland head coaching position:
"If this wasn't a good job, I wouldn't have been here. I did have some opportunities to go to other places. This is a great job because of the University number one, and also because of the type of people that are around that you deal with on a day-to-day basis. The area that we live in, people will pay a lot of money to go to Washington D.C. to look at things, so we must be in a really good area. We also play in a really great league. The ACC has taken some knocks the last few years, but check who has won the most national championships in the last ten years. Check who has won the most NCAA tournament games in the last 20 years. I couldn't get a better competitive job than at the University of Maryland."