COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — All the hard work and yes, sweat, was worth it for Gary Williams.
Williams will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday in Springfield, Massachusetts. It is an achievement the coach does not take lightly.
"Winning the national championship at Maryland and getting into the Hall of Fame, those two things are the highlights of my career," Williams said in a telephone interview. "The Hall of Fame is special because it's somebody else validating what you did. It's the top honor in basketball."
To be elected, finalists required 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee. Joining Williams for induction in the Class of 2014 are: Immaculata University's AIAW national championship teams of the early 1970s, Alonzo Mourning, Nolan Richardson, Mitch Richmond, Bob Leonard, Nat Clifton, Sarunas Marciulionis, Guy Rodgers and David Stern.
Now 69, Williams enjoyed success coaching at the high school level in his native New Jersey before working at American University, Boston College and Ohio State. His final move was returning to his alma mater, Maryland, in 1989.
"I had a really good job at Ohio State, but Maryland gave me my education and got me started in coaching," Williams said. "We had some problems there in the beginning, but it all worked out."
He spent 22 seasons at Maryland, uplifting the program following the cocaine-induced death of Len Bias and harsh NCAA sanctions. He guided the Terrapins to 14 NCAA tournament berths in his final 18 seasons, reached the Sweet 16 seven times, made the Final Four twice and won the school's first NCAA basketball championship in 2002.
Williams' frenzied approach on the sideline often left his white shirt, tie and suit completely soaked in sweat.
"Gary has earned the honor of being inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame through his relentless pursuit of excellence," said Debbie Yow, who served as Maryland's athletic director from 1994-2010.
Upon his arrival at Maryland, the Terrapins were coming off a 9-20 season and a last-place finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference.