Gary Williams went to Comcast Center Friday afternoon for his final press conference as Maryland’s head basketball coach. Below, a live blog of the proceedings. The most recent updates are on top; it will continue to update throughout.
1:57: And the celebration ends at just under an hour, with yet another ovation and more chants of “Gary, Gary, Gary.”
1:56: The final question is about putting Williams’s name on the Comcast Center court. He calls it a “great honor,” says he’s been fortunate to have been at Maryland as long as he was, and says that was not something he ever imagined when he came to College Park 22 years ago.
1:53: Liz Clarke asks what makes Maryland a great job. “I wouldn’t have been here if I didn’t think this wasn’t a great job,” Williams says, pointing out that he’s had opportunities to leave. Then he praises the school, the D.C. area and the ACC. “Check who’s won the most NCAA tournament games in the last 20 years,” he says.
1:51: Asked about potential candidates, Kevin Anderson declines to discuss anything but Gary Williams. Fans clap. Media members surely boo.
1:50: “There should be a basketball hall of fame for the University of Maryland at Cole Field House,” Williams says, to applause.
1:47: Williams says he considered retiring after the 2010 season, but that he looked forward to teaching this year’s younger team, and that the 2010 season convinced him he could still get it done. He says his decision to step away now was “just a gut feeling....I still feel like I could do it, but it’s a good time for me.”
1:46: Asked about attending games in the future, Williams says he’s never been one to hide and loves talking to people about basketball. He says he won’t be around Comcast Center much, since he doesn’t want to put pressure on the new coach.
1:45: Asked what he wants to see in a successor, Williams says he merely wants someone who will make the program better. Then he says he has confidence this will happen, because of Anderson and Loh.
1:42: Williams is asked whether Jordan Williams’s departure to go to the NBA influenced his decision. He says it had no effect.
1:40: Williams says he considered stepping away after the 2002 national championship and truly going out on top. “Then I checked the bank account,” he joked. He stresses that his decision isn’t about his current players, but about the timing in his life.
1:39: Williams stops and gets choked up again when asked about leaving Maryland on his own terms. “If you leave a little early, it’s better than leaving late, it really is,” Williams says. “I’m very fortunate to do this.”
1:37: Don Markus from the Baltimore Sun asks how hard it was to leave. ““Besides the coaching thing, I’m basically unskilled,” Williams jokes. “When you leave the one thing you kind of know how to do, there’s always some apprehension.”
1:36: Chick Hernandez asks Williams about his increasing love affair with his players. “They feel sorry for the old guy,” Williams jokes. Then he says it’s easier for players to understand and appreciate his lessons after they leave Maryland, start families and enter coaching themselves.
1:33: Jeff Barker from the Baltimore Sun asks about Williams’s role in choosing his successor. The coach says he’ll do whatever he’s asked, but ”that’s not my job,” adding that Loh and Anderson don’t need his help.
1:32: Asked about his basketball legacy, Williams talks about hard work in rebuilding the program. “I’m not a genius,” he says, joking that his solution to problems is “to work harder.”
1:31: And the anti-climactic ending: “Thanks very much for coming out today, and it was great to see everybody. Thanks very much.” And another ovation, and more chants of “Gary, Gary” and “Thank you Gary.”
1:30: Williams says Maryland basketball can compete with anyone in the ACC or in the nation, “and that’s happened on a consistent basis...and in the future it will continue to happen.”
1:29: “It’s not about supporting a player, it’s not about supporting a coach, it’s about supporting the Maryland basketball program,” Williams says. “The bottom line is, this program is in capable hands. Our current players are gonna do an outstanding job, and I’m very confident that we can have a program that you all will be proud of.”
1:28: Williams praises the University of Maryland and says it upsets him when people criticize the school, especially when the warts are visible unlike at private schools. “Believe me, no place is perfect, and we’re a great university,” he says.
1:27: Williams says he feels like he still can coach, “but you realize there’s other things out there....This gives me a chance, while I’m still relatively healthy, to do some things.”
1:26: There’s good people out there, Williams says. You just have to find them.
1:25: Williams says Terps fans sometimes don’t get the credit and recognition they deserve because of being in the D.C. metro area.
1:24: Williams starts by talking about....Johnny Holiday’s tie! Then he thanks and praises Kevin Anderson. He says he’s thought about this decision for a while, thanks the students of Maryland has to pause due to the emotions. “Might not be the last time,” he jokes about his emotions.
1:23: Holiday praises Williams for being “above board,” making him the second speaker to go there. Then he introduces Williams, to yet another standing ovation.
1:21: After listing Gary’s stats — including the fifth-most wins among active coaches, and the third-most all-time wins in the ACC — Holiday calls Williams a “spectacular coach....If you ever needed something charity-wise, you called Gary Williams,” Holiday said. “He would always respond.”
1:19: The video closes with a freeze frame on a Gary fist pump and another ovation, and now Johnny Holiday is on the mic, saying “Welcome to the house that Gary built.”
1:16: A special video presentation! Vintage photos of Gary from his youth and coaching career, to the music of “Like a Rock” by Bob Seger. Oh, and vintage video, too, featuring vintage fist pumps, vintage anger at officials, vintage mustaches from Maryland fans, and some great NCAA tournament clips.
1:15: Anderson is quoting extensively from a book I’ve never heard of. “Gary, thank you for being our clock builder,” Anderson concludes, a reference to this book.
1:14: Athletic Director Kevin Anderson is the next speaker, and he calls Williams “a coach, he’s a teacher, he’s a friend, and he’s a wonderful wonderful human being. Gary, thank you.”
1:11: Loh closes by saying he will recommend that the basketball court at Comcast Center will be named for Gary Williams. Williams stands and shakes his hand immediately, and there’s another ovation and a “Gary” chant. Williams gets emotional again. “Gary, for everything you have done for this university, thank you,” Loh says.
1:10: Very healthy crowd. One wag in the office wonders if it’s a bigger crowd than the Terps attracted for the Florida State game. Also, we’re told that the concession stands are, in fact, open.
1:09: Loh uses the “front-porch” analogy, saying that athletic teams are “the most visible part” of a university. “We have become a great public research university,” Loh says, “and a key factor in the rise of the University of Maryland is Gary.”
1:08: “First and foremost, in my view, he’s a teacher,” Loh says. “He cares deeply about the success of his student-athletes.”Loh also praises Williams for maintaining high ethical standards and playing “by the rules.”
1:06: Wallace D. Loh, the president of the university, is the first speaker. He calls Williams “one of the great coaches of all time” and “somebody who represents the heart and soul of this university...the best of the Terrapin character.”
1:05: The ovation lasts for several minutes, and included the men in suits on the podium. Williams was obviously emotional, and seemed near tears.
1:03: Gary walks onto the stage holding a red folder and smiling. He got a standing ovation from the crowd, and raised his arm to the crowd with a smile. It resembled his classic fist pump, but was much happier.