Nov. 12, 2001
No need to see the deal in writing -- to be approved by an agent who would go through every clause with a fine-toothed comb. For Carroll Williams, a hand shake was all that was needed. The hand shake meant your word, a deal is a deal.
"I think times were different then," says Williams. "Not just at Santa Clara, but all over. Resources were different and the whole structure was different. When Pat (Malley) took over, there was a good organization and he always told me where he stood."
For 22 years, Williams was the head basketball coach at Santa Clara and worked year to year with a hand shake. In this era of basketball coaches leaving for a fatter paycheck and schools wielding the ax with a sub .500 season, Carroll Williams was a throwback. Honor, loyalty and class are words that are often used to describe one of the latest inductees into the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame.
"These kinds of things happen when you've been around awhile," said Williams. "I guess I'm getting old." Such a statement belittles the man's contributions to the University over a 30 year span following a great playing career.
Williams was an honorable mention All-America at San Jose state and was an alternate on the 1960 Olympic team, considered among the best in history. As a coach, Williams won more games than any coach in WCC history (344 wins) and led the Broncos to 5 post-season appearances. The flex offense used by Dick Davey to this day was created by Williams in 1973. I saw him often on road trips as A.D. bringing sketches of two beautiful buildings to show to prospective donors. Those became the Pat Malley Center and Leavey Center.
The accomplishments can be looked up in a bio, but the character traits can only be documented by those he has touched over the years.
"The impression that will always stand out is how he put his ego aside in every area," said Dick Davey. "He was never who I know and what I know. It was about other people. He was the most patient coach in terms of never giving up on a player. He is a humble man who sought out the back seat, no matter who he was with. If he was at a clinic with a college coach, a high school coach and a junior high coach, he might spend all his time talking to the junior high coach."
My personal favorites comes from when I was trying to become the team's radio announcer for men's basketball seven years ago. After making presentations to the school and various radio stations, I had doubts as to whether I would be able to break into the field during Steve Nash's senior year. Former San Jose State coach Stan Morrison called Carroll and vouched for my work ethic and character. That was enough for him. Carroll then called me and said Stan was a good friend and he trusts what his friends say. At that point he said, "Let's make this happen."
During my time at the school, he would welcome my small children into his office to eat his candy while he would recount events in precise detail from games played 25 years ago. Occasionally, my kids would wander into other offices while others worked but always felt welcome. I believe it was because of the family atmosphere Carroll fostered in the athletic department. We were welcomed into the Santa Clara family, his family.
"I think maybe I contributed to the continuation of Santa Clara's spirit. The goal was to bring everybody together to work for the sake of developing our youngsters. The coaches knew I cared about what they did and how our kids did on the field and in the classroom. That was always important to me and they knew that."
I haven't had a chance to see Carroll in person since we was inducted. No doubt, I'll see him at the game tonight. It will be an honor to shake his hand.