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Aug. 3, 2006

ARLINGTON, Va. – University of Virginia men’s head basketball coach Dave Leitao is one of seven current or former basketball coaches scheduled to participate in “Operation Hardwood III,” a tour to Japan sponsored by the USO and Armed Forces Entertainment.

During the tour, which is scheduled for Aug. 23-31, participants will coach military players competing in a championship tournament. The tour will also include a visit to sailors aboard a ship in the region. NIKE is providing equipment and uniforms for the tour.

Joining Leitao on the tour are men’s head coaches Jim Calhoun (University of Connecticut), Ed Conroy (The Citadel), Karl Hobbs (George Washington University), John Thompson III (Georgetown University) and Darrin Horn (Western Kentucky University). Also scheduled to participate in the tour is Steve Lavin, a basketball analyst with ABC/ESPN and the former men’s head basketball coach at UCLA.

“It is with great pride and honor that I participate in a program providing support for our military personnel,” Leitao said. “I believe this is a critical time in our nation’s history and if I can help lift the spirits of our troops through the game of basketball I’m happy to do so. This also provides me the opportunity to give my personal thanks to military personnel for their commitment and sacrifice. I look forward to being with them.”

The 2005-06 season was Leitao’s first as head coach at Virginia. He was the head coach at DePaul University the three previous seasons. He also was the head coach at Northeastern University for two years, and was an assistant coach at the University of Connecticut and Northeastern for a combined 16 years.

This tour is the third in the “Operation Hardwood” series for the USO. Coaches and sports personalities traveled to Kuwait for the two previous tours.

The tour also continues the USO tradition of bringing athletes, coaches and sports-related events to troops serving far from home. Previous USO tours this year include a visit to Iraq and Kuwait by football coaching legend Lou Holtz and Louisiana State University head football coach Les Miles. In addition, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul were among the NBA stars recently completing a stateside USO tour of military bases.

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