May 20, 2011
Gary Williams Addresses Graduating Maryland Seniors

With a final fist pump and cry of “Beat Duke!” retired Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams said goodbye to graduating seniors Thursday, just before their degrees were conferred at commencement.

A tearful Williams said his players had told him this year’s graduating class was great. “So I decided to go out with you, he said.

College Park students took Williams’ rising fist as a cue to flip the tassels on their graduation caps.

The state’s flagship university graduated 7,475 students Thursday, handing out 5,545 bachelor’s degrees and 1,930 graduate degrees. They serenaded Williams with one last chant of Gary! Gary!” as he rose to address them.

Williams slightly upstaged keynote speaker DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association and a major player in the league’s current labor standoff.

“We want football!” a group of students chanted as Smith took the podium.

“I want football, too!” he shouted, donning a red Terps hat before he began his speech about living with courage and a commitment to fairness.

Smith, who grew up rooting for the Terps, said he was thrilled to share the stage with Williams. In fact, he offered the coach his spot as the official commencement speaker.

Smith credited Williams with making the Comcast Center a rare place where “you can absolutely get swept up in utter delirious passion.”

Change at the top of the athletic department was a theme at College Park this year and, perhaps appropriately, the commencement at Comcast carried a strong sports flavor.

Williams was a late addition to the day’s program after hundreds of students drafted a Facebook petition prompting President Wallace D. Loh to ask the retired coach to speak.

“They were here for four years for our games, Williams said of the students. It’s always their university, so I’m glad President Loh said it was OK.”

Though he will remain a university employee, Williams reiterated that he will cede the spotlight to successor Mark Turgeon. He implied that Thursday’s public goodbye might be his last. “It was hard to put it into words, he said of his feelings during an interview after his speech. It was probably one of the toughest speeches I’ve ever given.”

Williams, who briefly recounted his rise from UM student to coach, told the students that his best decision was sticking with a pursuit that stirred his passions.

“If you have passion, it doesn’t become a job all the time, he said. It becomes something you want to do.”

Gary Williams Addresses Graduating Maryland Seniors

The Baltimore Sun, Childs Walker

http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2011-05-19/news/bs-md-college-park-graduation-20110519_1_graduate-degrees-maryland-basketball-coach-college-park

With a final fist pump and cry of “Beat Duke!” retired Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams said goodbye to graduating seniors Thursday, just before their degrees were conferred at commencement.

A tearful Williams said his players had told him this year’s graduating class was great. “So I decided to go out with you, he said.

College Park students took Williams’ rising fist as a cue to flip the tassels on their graduation caps.

The state’s flagship university graduated 7,475 students Thursday, handing out 5,545 bachelor’s degrees and 1,930 graduate degrees. They serenaded Williams with one last chant of Gary! Gary!” as he rose to address them.

Williams slightly upstaged keynote speaker DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association and a major player in the league’s current labor standoff.

“We want football!” a group of students chanted as Smith took the podium.

“I want football, too!” he shouted, donning a red Terps hat before he began his speech about living with courage and a commitment to fairness.

Smith, who grew up rooting for the Terps, said he was thrilled to share the stage with Williams. In fact, he offered the coach his spot as the official commencement speaker.

Smith credited Williams with making the Comcast Center a rare place where “you can absolutely get swept up in utter delirious passion.”

Change at the top of the athletic department was a theme at College Park this year and, perhaps appropriately, the commencement at Comcast carried a strong sports flavor.

Williams was a late addition to the day’s program after hundreds of students drafted a Facebook petition prompting President Wallace D. Loh to ask the retired coach to speak.

“They were here for four years for our games, Williams said of the students. It’s always their university, so I’m glad President Loh said it was OK.”

Though he will remain a university employee, Williams reiterated that he will cede the spotlight to successor Mark Turgeon. He implied that Thursday’s public goodbye might be his last. “It was hard to put it into words, he said of his feelings during an interview after his speech. It was probably one of the toughest speeches I’ve ever given.”

Williams, who briefly recounted his rise from UM student to coach, told the students that his best decision was sticking with a pursuit that stirred his passions.

“If you have passion, it doesn’t become a job all the time, he said. It becomes something you want to do.”






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