By Andrew Ramspacher and Jeff White

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Although he never played for or coached under Terry Holland, Tony Bennett 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 Monday.

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

Bennett, the current Cavalier coach who passed Holland atop UVA’s wins list 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.”

Terry Holland (left) and Tony Bennett

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 ‘84), three consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season titles (1981-83), two Elite Eight appearances (1983 and ‘89), one ACC tournament championship (1976), one National Invitation Tournament crown (1980), and nine NCAA tournament appearances. He earned ACC Coach of the Year honors in 1981 and ‘82. 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 after 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.”

Before moving into athletics administration, Craig Littlepage coached basketball, and he had two stints as an assistant under Holland at UVA. Littlepage, who later succeeded Holland as the Cavaliers’ AD, hired Bennett as head coach in the spring of 2009, and he says Holland and Bennett were aligned philosophically.

“It all started at the defensive end of the floor, in terms of the philosophy of playing the game and how their teams were going to be successful,” Littlepage said Monday.

“Terry’s teams were going to be successful only if they were going to be sound defensively and gritty defensively. Tony Bennett’s teams at Washington State and before that when he coached with his dad at the University of Wisconsin, they were successful because they incorporated a very disciplined defensive style of play.”

Holland, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2019, 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, 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. Among the tributes:

Craig Littlepage, an assistant coach under Holland and his successor 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 head men’s soccer coach who was hired by Holland and has since led the Cavaliers to two NCAA 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.”

Carla Williams, UVA’s athletics director since 2017

Jeff Jones, current Old Dominion University head coach who played for Holland (1978 to 1982) and later succeeded him as UVA’s 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 for Holland (1981-85) and now serves as analyst on radio broadcasts of UVA games

“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.”


“Off the court, he was a Southern gentleman, mild-mannered, coat and tie, but, boy, you get him on the court, and he was as a fiercely competitive as anybody.”

Wally Walker, a forward for 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

Tim Mullen, who played for 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 Larrañaga, current University of Miami head coach and former Holland assistant at Davidson and UVA

“He was just a true model, a mentor to me, and everything I’ve been able to do in coaching is really as a direct result of the example he set for me, the way he built his family. My wife became a part of his family. The players at Davidson and Virginia became a part of his family, and I’ve tried to emulate that at Bowling Green and George Mason and Miami.”

To receive Jeff White’s articles by email, click the appropriate box in this link to subscribe.

Terry Holland and Ralph Sampson