Former Maryland head coach Gary Williams has officially been elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, announced midday Monday at the Final Four in North Texas.
"Well, [the feeling is] hard to describe. It really hasn't sunk in," Williams said at a press conference on Monday. "I was just a coach, you know, and to be able to go in with [former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson] as a fellow coach at the college level certainly it's great that college basketball is recognized by the Hall of Fame and I'm glad to be a part of that."
Williams applauded his former players, ranging from his time at American, Boston College, and Ohio State on through to his time at Maryland. Among the Terrapins he mentioned by name were Walt Williams and Joe Smith, along with players who helped him win the NCAA title in 2002, Juan Dixon, Byron Mouton, and Lonny Baxter.
"We came a long way to get that point that when we could win the NCAA tournament," he said. "Obviously the team that you have in that situation, they're not just really good players. They have to be good people."
This is the second major honor of 2014 for Williams, who was also elected to the Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, an announcement made in late March.
Williams, a 69-year-old native of New Jersey, spent his collegiate career as a player at Maryland where he served as the team’s captain in 1967. Following his graduation, he would coach high school basketball before landing his first college coaching job as an assistant at Lafayette in 1972 before moving on to take the same position at Boston College in 1973.
His first head coaching job came at American University in 1978. He coached the Eagles for four seasons before being hired back to Boston College, this time as a head coach. He spent four seasons at BC before taking the same position at Ohio State in 1986 and coaching the Buckeyes until 1989.
Williams was hired as the head coach at his alma mater, Maryland, in 1989. At the time, the program was struggling following the death of star player Len Bias in 1986 and the tumultuous tenure of head coach Bob Wade thereafter.
Williams rebuilt the program despite heavy NCAA sanctions that stemmed from that period that preceded his tenure in College Park, eventually leading the Terrapins to back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances in 1993-94 and 1994-95.
He would lead Maryland to 11 straight NCAA tournament berths from 1993-2004, including appearing in the Final Four in 2000-01 and returning to the Final Four the following season to defeat Indiana in the national championship game to win the NCAA title in 2002.
Williams retired from Maryland in 2011 having amassed 668 career wins, including 461 at Maryland. Since his retirement, he has done work in the media including on television with Comcast SportsNet and on the radio.