- The Washington Times - Friday, May 6, 2011

Gary Williams, like so many other coaches, kept an eye on others in his profession for a variety of reasons.

Maybe he wanted to borrow an inbound set or figure out a better way to set up a press.

But in all the good things he observed, he also figured out something important he didn’t want to do.

“I’ve seen coaches where they just stayed too long,” Williams said. “So, if you leave a little early, it’s better than leaving late. It really is.”

And so the Maryland basketball coach extensively discussed his retirement Friday at Comcast Center, capping a 22-year career at his alma mater and a 33-year run as a head coach at four schools that was highlighted by a national title in 2002.

The decision was equal parts surprising in its mere occurrence and unsurprising in its abruptness.

Athletic director Kevin Anderson said Williams came to him April 29 to inform him of his intent to retire. Anderson and Williams, along with their respective wives, had dinner the next night, and Anderson asked him to reconsider.

Williams re-affirmed his choice Monday and made a formal announcement Thursday.

“Why now? It’s just a gut feeling, really more than anything else,” Williams said. “It’s a time in my life where I have an opportunity to do some things.”

But not without a farewell flourish.

Williams will remain at Maryland as an assistant athletic director and special assistant to Anderson. Williams described his likely work as something akin to a consultant, and insisted he would not be a daily presence in College Park.

Still, reminders of his accomplishments will be obvious, including the 9-year-old Comcast Center. Campus president Wallace Loh said he would recommend to the university system’s board of regents that the arena court be named in Williams‘ honor.

“Today we say goodbye to an iconic coach, but we are not saying goodbye to Gary Williams,” Loh said.

Williams choked up several times during an hour-long press conference opened to the public, including when he entered the arena, waved a right hand known so often for emphatic fist pumps and eventually took a seat on the dais.

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