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Terry Holland, former Virginia basketball coach and athletic director, dies at 80

Former Davidson basketball player, coach, and Athletic Director Terry Holland smiles during a ceremony to retire his jersey number 42 following the NCAA college basketball game between LaSalle and Davidson on Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, in Davidson, N.C. (AP Photo/Brian Westerholt)
Terry Holland, the legendary Virginia basketball coach who later made his mark as an athletic director at Davidson and East Carolina, has died at age 80. (AP Photo/Brian Westerholt)

Terry Holland, the legendary former Virginia men's basketball coach and athletic director, has died at age 80. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Holland had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2019 and died at an Alzheimer's care facility in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he'd been living with his wife.

Holland is known for putting Virginia on the map in men's college basketball and landing one of the school's most important stars: the seven-foot-four Ralph Sampson, who was named national player of the year for three straight years from 1981-83. Holland led the Cavaliers to eight NCAA tournament appearances, two trips to the Final Four and their first-ever ACC Championship in 1976 in his 16-year coaching career at Virginia. He also has a large and successful coaching tree, with at least 12 of his former assistants going on to become head coaches themselves.

One thing Holland couldn't manage to do at Virginia was win the school's first national championship in men's basketball. When the Cavaliers finally did it in 2019, Holland was in the building, cheering on the team and head coach Tony Bennett.

"I think he was just as proud as if he had coached the team himself," Holland's former player Bobby Stokes said via the Times-Dispatch. "He was just genuinely happy for Virginia basketball. There’s something special between them (Terry and Tony)."

Turning Virginia into a powerhouse is just one of his many accomplishments as a coach. He also spent a significant amount of time working at his alma mater, Davidson, where he'd been a college basketball star. That's also where he cut his teeth as a coach, first working as an assistant and then getting the promotion to head coach in 1969.

Holland would return to Davidson in 1990 as athletic director, leaving coaching behind for good. He made his way back to Virginia in 1994 where he turned the school into an athletics powerhouse, serving as athletic director until 2003 when he left for the same position at Eastern Carolina. He retired in 2012 and was named the emeritus athletic director.

Holland remembered for positivity, dedication

Holland is survived by Ann, his high school sweetheart and wife of 56 years, as well as two daughters and three grandchildren. His loss was mourned by the college basketball community on and off social media, who remembered him as kind, positive, and dedicated.

"He was a visionary, a positive coach," Bobby Stokes, Holland's physician and a captain of his 1978-79 Virginia team, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "He made it his mission to make it like a family. He cared about you off the basketball court and helped you grow along the way."

"I remember walking into his house, and within two minutes I felt completely at home," Holland's former player Jeff Lamp told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "I think I had seen a lot of the worst of the recruiting process and in him I just found someone who was honest, straightforward and someone I immediately related to. [...] I loved him as a coach, but honestly, what I think of first is who he is as a person and a man, his character, his integrity, his dignity, just an incredible friend."