During Elliott’s remarks, he turned to his left, where athletics director Carla Williams was standing.
“Look at that smile,” Elliott said. “We all know Miss Carla, she’s always cool, calm and collected. But today you deserve to smile. I know I get a lot of attention, but it’s not about me today; it’s about Miss Carla and the vision that’s starting to become a reality.”
For Williams, it was a day to savor. She came to UVA from the University of Georgia in December 2017, and upgrading the department’s aging facilities became an immediate priority for Williams.
“My second day here, we took a tour of the facilities and saw the need,” Williams said during a press conference earlier Thursday afternoon, “not just the need for football, but the need for our Olympic sports was profound. That’s when we started.”
The master plan’s first phase, two lighted natural-grass practice fields, was completed in the summer of 2020. But the COVID-19 pandemic hindered fundraising for the remaining phases, and Williams’ patience was tested.
“But I believe in what we’re doing,” she said. “We’re trying to do something at UVA that I think is really special and that can be a model for college athletics. There’s no reason why a premier academic institution cannot thrive in football. No reason. It’s harder. It takes more work. But we’re up for that challenge. Coach Elliott is, too. That’s why he was a successful candidate.”
Elliott took over in December for Bronco Mendenhall, who stepped down after six seasons as the Wahoos’ head coach.