UVA Mourns Loss of Terry Holland, An ‘Amazing Man With a Historic Legacy’

February 27, 2023 By Andrew Ramspacher, fpa5up@virginia.edu Andrew Ramspacher, fpa5up@virginia.edu

While Tony Bennett never played for or coached under Terry Holland, he was around him long enough to echo what many have always said about the University of Virginia’s legendary men’s basketball coach.

Above all else, Holland was the ultimate “gentleman,” Bennett said.

Holland, who coached the Wahoos from 1974 to 1990 and retired as UVA’s all-time wins leader, passed away Sunday in Charlottesville after a bout with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 80 years old.

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Bennett, the current Cavalier coach who passed Holland atop Virginia’s wins list earlier this season, was among the many members of the UVA community honoring and remembering Holland on Monday.

“He just made you feel good and peaceful,” Bennett said of Holland, who served as UVA’s athletics director from 1994 to 2001 and was instrumental in the creation of John Paul Jones Arena. “You just always wanted to put your arm around him and get a hug from him. He just had that way about him.

“It’s a sad day. Certainly, I had the greatest respect for him basketball-wise, but the more I came to know him and even his wife, Ann, the more I loved them just as people.”

Holland, who is survived by Ann, daughters Ann-Michael Holland and Kate Baynard, and three grandchildren, led the Hoos to a pair of Final Four berths (1981 and 1984), three consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season titles (1981-83), two Elite Eight appearances (1983 and 1989), one ACC tournament championship (1976), one National Invitational Tournament crown (1980) and nine NCAA tournament appearances. He earned ACC Coach of the Year honors in 1981 and 1982. Ralph Sampson was a three-time national player of the year under Holland’s watch.

The men’s basketball program wouldn’t experience that kind of sustained success again until Bennett’s arrival in 2009.

“Coach Holland built the foundation of Virginia basketball,” said Rick Carlisle, a co-captain of UVA’s 1983-84 Final Four team, and the current head coach of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers. “More than anything, he cultivated an atmosphere of respect and family and positively impacted the lives of everyone he touched. An amazing man with a historic legacy.”

Holland was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2019 and he attended UVA home games through the end of the 2021-22 season.

“We’ve had a great life together,” Ann Holland said in December. “Everybody has a cross to bear. He has taken his and has done it graciously. He’s been amazing.”

Terry Holland and Tony Bennett standing together, smiling for a picture

The two winningest coaches in UVA men’s basketball history: Terry Holland and Tony Bennett. (Photo by Matt Riley, UVA Athletics)

Terry Holland, a North Carolina native, played for Davidson College in the early 1960s and later returned to his alma mater to become athletics director following his coaching tenure at UVA. Holland served as AD of East Carolina University from 2004 to 2013.

Whether as a coach or administrator, Holland had a positive impact on many people. That was made clear Monday.

Craig Littlepage, an assistant coach under Holland who later succeeded him as Virginia’s AD

“(Holland) probably was someone that was a natural as an administrator, as a director of athletics, because he also had the coaching background and he had the coaching instincts, and, as a result of that, he was trusted. Particularly he was trusted by the coaches and the people that worked for him administratively. 

“I think that that was something that people don’t talk about as much – his administrative career. Obviously, he coached here much longer than he was an administrator, but it can’t be forgotten the work that he did that set the stage for the things that took place once he retired from the position of director of athletics.”

George Gelnovatch, UVA men’s soccer coach who was hired by Holland and has since led the Cavaliers to two national championships and six College Cup appearances

“Terry took a chance on me. I don’t know how else to say it. I know [former UVA coach Bruce Arena] had a lot to do with it and gave Terry some input on a lot of things, but ultimately it was Terry’s decision who he was going to hire as the next soccer coach when Bruce left, and he took a pretty big gamble on a young guy. I’ll always be indebted to him. Without him, I wouldn’t be here.”

Jeff Jones, current Old Dominion University head coach who played under Holland (1978 to 1982) and later succeeded him as UVA head coach

“I think those people that think in terms of his impact on UVA basketball only, kind of miss the point. What he did with UVA basketball impacted all of the athletic programs at UVA.

“Obviously, he and Ralph are always kind of attached at the hip, but there wasn’t anybody that competed at that national level the way Coach Holland’s teams did before.

“He showed the way that you didn’t have to sacrifice academic excellence to compete. Then after that, Bruce Arena came and did great, and George Welsh did good things, and others. But Coach Holland was the one that engineered that first thing.”

Jimmy Miller, who played under Holland (1981 to 1985) and now broadcasts UVA games on the radio

“To me, he changed the trajectory of my life, really. I was coming from West Virginia, and not only did he introduce me to another world, but he introduced me to an entirely different family, aside from my own family, the basketball community and by extension then a broader community in the ACC and across the country.

“We’ll mourn today, and at some point, we will celebrate his legacy. Certainly, his legacy here at the University of Virginia, being a tremendous ambassador of Virginia, but also within the Atlantic Coast Conference and then a broader net around the country.

“He was a tremendous coach, he was a tremendous administrator, but I think of him as a husband, I think of him as a father. He’s been married to Ann for 56 years. We call her Miss Annie. He was like a father to all of us who had the privilege to play for him, and I think of his two beautiful daughters and their kids.”

Tim Mullen, who played under Holland from 1981-85

“He and Ann welcomed the players into their lives both while we were playing and afterwards – like a diverse group of sons. So, we all grew to love them both very much.

“Terry was just a really good coach – which is so multifaceted: part basketball, part parent, part psychologist, part salesman for the University, etc. And he did all those things really well, and, amazingly, without drama or making it about himself or anything.

“He was one of those people whom you hoped would be proud of what you became, literally like a parent or other important mentor.”

Jim Ryan, UVA’s president since 2018

Wally Walker, a forward under Holland who was named Most Valuable Player of the 1976 ACC Tournament

“He had a huge impact on me. He made demands on me that I needed to have made. He demanded that I play at the other end of the floor. It took a while for that to take root, but then it did. I got named by the coaches as the best defender on the ’76 team, which I said was about as big an upset as us winning the tournament that year, considered where I came from.

“He planted a seed for us, not just culturally, but to say that, hey, we can play and beat anybody.”

Bryant Stith, former UVA guard who was named 1988-89 ACC Rookie of the Year under Holland

Carla Williams, UVA’s athletics director since 2017

Jim Larrañaga, current University of Miami head coach who coached under Holland at UVA

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