Gary Williams was the head coach of four Division I teams from 1979-2011. After 668 wins, two Final Four appearances and a national championship with Maryland in 2002, he was officially enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday night at the Symphony Hall in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Williams was a successful high school coach before he jumped to the college ranks … a jump he almost didn’t make. In order to become a full-time assistant at Lafayette in 1972 Williams had to become the head soccer coach as well. He would serve in that dual role for six years.
Hall of Famer Billy Cunningham presented Williams into the Hall of Fame.
Two legendary college basketball head coaches were enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame last night as former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson and former Maryland coach Gary Williams were among the Class of 2014 inductees.
Both head coaches won national championships as Richardson took Arkansas to the title in 1994 and three Final Fours overall (1990, 1994, 1995) in a career that led to a 509-207 overall record. Williams led Maryland to a national title of its own in 2002 and compiled a career record of 668-380 during his college coaching career.
The coaches were inducted in Springfield, Massachusetts last night and each coach had a chance to give a speech.
“I almost threw away basketball because of that,” Richardson said in his Hall of Fame speech. “And I’m trying to coach a team the first time at Arkansas. There was unbelievable pressure. I could care less if I ever win. Then I asked the good man upstairs what should I do. I knew she [daughter Yvonne] wouldn’t want me to quit.”
“So I rededicated myself again,” Richardson said. “When I think of winning, sometimes I think we do so for the ones we loved so much. I was happy, but it was different. Things went in the right perspective at that time. What’s more important a life or a game? That’s what I was faced with. I will pick life every time.”
It’s nice to see two really good coaches from the college game get their time in the spotlight by getting inducted into the Hall of Fame. With Richardson’s distinctive and memorable “40 Minutes of Hell” uptempo style and Williams taking a team to a national championship without a McDonald’s All-American, both were very good at what they did in unique ways.
On Tuesday morning, the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame committee announced its eight-person Class of 2014. Headlining the list of inductees are former Maryland head coach Gary Williams, LSU center Shaquille O’Neal and Grant Hill, a two-time national champion at Duke.
The Class of 2014 will officially been inducted on Sunday, Nov. 23 at the Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland in Kansas City, Mo.
Rounding out the class are players Zelmo Beaty (Prairie View A&M) and Darrell Griffith (Louisville), coach Dale Brown (LSU) along contributors Howard Garfinkel, who started Five-Star Basketball Camp and Glenn Wilkes, Sr., who coach at Stetson, but also directed clinics and camps and authored multiple books.
Williams had three coaching stops — American, Boston College and Ohio State — before returning to his alma mater in 1989. Williams retired in 2011, leading the Terrapins to back-to-back Final Four appearances, ending that run with a National Title in 2002. On Tuesday evening, Williams joined SportsNet Central on Comcast SportsNet to discuss his latest honor.
The National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame inducted its first class in 2006. This will be the hall’s ninth.