UNC’s Roy Williams on players’ maskless post-Duke celebration: ‘Let’s not make it out like we charged the Capitol’

Roy Williams has been watching both the news and sports this week.

Speaking to reporters Friday in advance of North Carolina’s important game against ACC leader Virginia, Williams indicated that he has been displeased with how the Tar Heels have been portrayed for their behavior during a victory party that followed their game against archrival Duke last Saturday.

Two members of the team were seen in a video recording of the party with people who were not team members, none of them wearing facial coverings to protect against the COVID-19 pandemic. A report by campus newspaper The Daily Tar Heel included the video; that helped lead to the postponement of Monday’s ACC home game against the Miami Hurricanes.

“It was not at a fraternity house. It was not on Franklin Street,” Williams said, referencing the Chapel Hill avenue that is home to many bars and restaurants popular with UNC students. “It was within our group of players and managers and a few, very few other people got involved. I was upset about it. I’m still upset about it. But let’s not make it out like we charged the Capitol building or anything like that.

“That’s not what it was. … I’ve handled it what I think is very appropriately.”

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The forced postponement of the Miami game was a disappointment for a Carolina squad seeking as many wins as it can get to bolster its NCAA Tournament case, and it was an embarrassment given that the Hurricanes already had traveled to Chapel Hill and the game was to be televised nationally on ESPN’s Big Monday.

The team put out a joint statement Wednesday acknowledging that there were more players present than the two shown on the video, big men Armando Bacot and Day’Ron Sharpe. They said their plan had been to celebrate privately, but they allowed “several friends” to join the party and then chose not to wear masks during their time together.

“We apologize for not adhering to the University’s and athletic department’s guidelines and apologize to Coach Williams and his staff for not stepping forward when he first addressed it with us on Sunday,” the statement said.

The players’ statement pointed out that they’ve “worked too hard for eight months doing the right things to make those kinds of mistakes at this point in the season.”

Williams said in his part of the Wednesday statement that the players would pay “a significant price.” However, he said Friday that no players would be suspended for the Virginia game and that he will have his full roster available.

“We said we would handle it internally,” Williams said, “and that’s what we’ve done.”

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