CHAPEL HILL -- North Carolina coach Roy Williams did not intend to leave five players on the court for the final 14 seconds of the Tar Heels’ 90-57 loss at Florida State on Saturday, a UNC basketball team spokesman said on Monday.
“Roy thought that the walk-ons followed him [off the court], too,” said Steve Kirschner, the director of communications for the UNC athletic department.
With 14 seconds to play on Saturday and his team trailing by 33 points, Williams, approached Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton during a timeout. Williams said later he was concerned about his players’ safety during what he expected would be a wild postgame celebration on the court of the Donald L. Tucker Center.
According to Kirschner, Williams asked Hamilton if he would be offended if the game could be declared over with 14 seconds to play. Williams, according to Kirschner, believed that Hamilton had agreed to end the game early.
“Roy’s intention was to just stop it there, bring the whole team off the court and bring Florida State on to celebrate,” Kirschner said.
And so with 14 seconds to play, Williams gestured for his players, assistant coaches and student managers to follow him off the court. But the five North Carolina players who had already entered the game – a group that includes walk-ons Patrick Crouch, Stewart Cooper and David Dupont – remained on the floor. The final five also included scholarship players Stilman White and Jackson Simmons.
After Williams and most of his team left, the game resumed. The final 14 seconds ticked away, and a jubilant crowd rushed the court, leaving UNC’s walk-ons to fend their way back to the Tar Heels’ locker room.
Kirschner said that Williams was wondering why it took so long for some of his players to enter the locker room. It wasn’t until Williams watched film of the game later on Saturday when he realized that the final 14 seconds had been played, Kirschner said.
Kirschner said that upon realizing that, Williams said, “I didn’t know they played. I wanted everybody to leave the floor. That was the whole point about doing it for player safety.”