Pete Gillen Named Men's Head Basketball Coach
March 28, 1998
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.–Pete Gillen, the men’s head basketball coach at Providence College for the last four years, was named men’s head basketball coach at the University of Virginia on Saturday (March 28). UVa Athletic Director Terry Holland made the announcement in San Antonio, Texas, where he is attending the NCAA Basketball Tournament’s Final Four as a member of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee. Gillen agreed to a seven-year contract.
Gillen’s four Providence teams compiled an overall record of 72-53 and the 1997 team reached the championship game of the NCAA Southeast Regional Tournament before losing to eventual national champion Arizona. Providence competed in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) under Gillen’s direction in 1995 and 1996.
Prior to assuming the head coaching position at Providence, Gillen was the head coach at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, for nine seasons. His Xavier teams had an overall record of 202-75 and participated in the NCAA Tournament seven times, reaching the Midwest Regional semifinals in 1990. He was named Coach of the Year in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference five times. Xavier won six regular season conference championships and four conference tournament championships under Gillen’s guidance.
His career record in 13 seasons as a collegiate head coach is 274-128.
Gillen, a 50-year-old native of Brooklyn, N.Y., was an assistant coach at the University of Hawaii (1975-76), Virginia Military Institute (1976-78), Villanova University (1978-80) and the University of Notre Dame (1980-85) before taking over as the head coach at Xavier.
“Pete Gillen was high on our short list of candidates right from the beginning,” Holland said. “When he expressed an interest in the job, I was very excited. My excitement was tempered by the reluctance of Providence officials to let us talk to him. Once we were allowed to begin negotiations with Pete, things obviously moved very quickly.
“Pete’s experience at every level of basketball, including as a high school head coach and a collegiate assistant, and his proven record as a head coach at Xavier and Providence made him a very attractive candidate. As a head coach, his teams have made appearances in an NCAA Tournament regional final and a regional semifinal. He has two gold medals with USA Basketball junior teams, one as a head coach at the United States Olympic Festival in 1993 and one as an assistant at the 1991 World University Games. He also has a gold medal as an assistant coach with Dream Team II at the 1994 World Championships. I think that’s a remarkable resume. “Every individual I talked to, in coaching and outside of coaching, not only mentioned Pete’s virtues as a coach, but made a point of telling me he is an individual of the highest character. The fact his teams play an up-tempo style, and he finds humor in basketball and life, will bring a lot of excitement to Virginia basketball.” Gillen graduated from Fairfield University (Conn.) in 1968 with a degree in English Literature. He played basketball and baseball at Fairfield. Gillen and his wife Ginnie have two children, a son, Brendan (14) and a daughter, Shannon (9). “My family and I are thrilled to be going to the University of Virginia,” Gillen said. “Virginia is a tremendous university with a great academic and athletic tradition. It is a special place. We lived in Lexington when I was an assistant at VMI and are familiar with Charlottesville. “Terry Holland is one of the most respected individuals in intercollegiate athletics. I look forward to working with him, University President John Casteen and everyone at Virginia. The University of Virginia appreciates and understands the value of academic and athletic excellence. Virginia’s academic reputation is well known and I’m impressed by the success of the athletic program.
“Providence is a great place and I loved my four years as head coach at Providence College. My family and I were treated very well by the people of Providence. We enjoyed the time we spent in Rhode Island.”
Gillen replaces Jeff Jones as Virginia’s men’s head basketball coach. Jones resigned from the position on March 15 after eight years as the Cavaliers’ head coach.
Gillen is the ninth head coach in the 93-year history of the Virginia men’s basketball program.