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 retirement ceremony for his number 42 jersey following an NCAA college basketball game between LaSalle and Davidson Sunday, January 30, 2022, in Davidson, North Carolina. (AP Photo/Brian Westerholt )
Terry Holland, legendary Virginia basketball coach who later became athletic director at Davidson and East Carolina, has died at age 80. (AP Photo/Brian Westerholt)

Terry Holland, legendary former Virginia men’s basketball coach and athletic director, has died at the age of 80. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, In 2019, Holland was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and died in an Alzheimer’s hospital in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he lived with his wife.

Holland is known for putting Virginia on the map for men’s college basketball and landing one of the school’s most important stars: 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 during his 16-year coaching career in Virginia. He also has a large and successful coaching tree, with at least 12 of his former assistants becoming head coaches themselves.

What Holland failed to do in Virginia was win the school’s first national men’s basketball championship. When the Cavaliers finally made it in 2019, Holland was in the building cheering on the team and head coach Tony Bennett.

“I think he was as proud as if he was coaching the team himself,” said former Holland player Bobby Stokes. via Times-Dispatch. “He was just genuinely happy for Virginia basketball. There is 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 was a college basketball star. There he became a coach, first working as an assistant and then being promoted to head coach in 1969.

Holland would return to Davidson in 1990 as athletic director, leaving coaching for good. He returned to Virginia in 1994, where he turned the school into an athletics center, serving as athletic director until 2003, when he left for the same position in East Carolina. He retired in 2012 and was named Honorary Athletic Director.

Holland was remembered for positive, dedication

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

“He was a visionary, positive coach,” Bobby Stokes, Holland’s physician and captain of his 1978–1979 Virginia team, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “He made it his mission to make it as a family. He took care of you outside of the basketball court and helped you grow along the way.”

“I remember walking into his house and two minutes later I felt at home,” former Holland player Jeff Lamp told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “I think I’ve seen a lot of the worst in the hiring process and in it I just found someone who was honest, straight forward and someone I connected with right away. […] I loved him as a coach, but to be honest, the first thing I think about is who he is as a person and as a man, his character, his honesty, his dignity, just an incredible friend.”


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