Terry Holland, an accomplished basketball player, well-respected coach and highly-effective athletic administrator, died Sunday in Charlottesville, VA, at age 80.
Holland was athletic director at East Carolina from 2004 to 2012.
He was initially an advisor in the ECU AD search before telling officials he would like to be considered for the position. That spurred a rapid process that brought Holland to Greenville.
Holland hired Skip Holtz as football coach after the 2004 season. Holtz guided the Pirates to Conference USA championships in 2008 and 2009. Holland said he saw the twinkle in Holtz’s eyes as they toured ECU facilities.
Holland brought in Jeff Lebo as basketball coach, moving quickly after Dave Odom, Holland’s former assistant at Virginia, advised him that the former North Carolina guard was available.
Lebo directed the Pirates to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament championship at Weber State in 2013. ECU topped the host Wildcats, 77-74, on Akeem Richmond’s 3-pointer at the buzzer, but Holland wasn’t on hand to take part in the celebration at the Dee Events Center in Ogden, UT.
“He didn’t want to come back here,” Lebo said.
In its run to an improbable NCAA Tournament championship in 1983, N.C. State edged Virginia, 63-62, on March 26, 1983, at Weber State in the West Regional final.
But Holland had plenty of great and memorable moments at Virginia.
Holland coached the Cavaliers for 16 seasons beginning in 1974. He compiled a 326-173 record that included an NIT title in 1980 as well as trips to the Final Four in 1981 and 1984. He twice was named ACC Coach of the Year. He won a national recruiting battle for towering Ralph Sampson with a direct and honest approach.
Holland led Virginia to its first ACC Tournament title in 1976.
Holland had a 15-10 record in NCAA Tournament games. His overall college coaching record was 418-216.
He was Southern Conference Coach of the Year three times at Davidson, his alma mater, where he led the nation in field goal percentage in 1963-64, as a senior with Lefty Driesell as his coach. Holland became an assistant to Driesell at Davidson and was promoted to head coach when Driesell left for Maryland in 1969.
Holland was athletic director at Davidson from 1990 to 1994 and AD at Virginia from 1994 to 2001.
His administration at ECU was characterized by general program growth as well as prestigious achievements by student-athletes and Pirate teams.
He was instrumental in ushering the Pirates into the Big East Conference, a milestone that evolved into membership in the American Athletic Conference when the Big East’s football-focused schools peeled away from those without FBS programs. He was able to think big and follow with bold action, publicly lobbying for the Pirates to be included in the Southeastern Conference.
Holland made alumnus Ruffin McNeill football coach in 2010. McNeill was 42-34 in six seasons at ECU, going 5-0 in his last five games against ACC opponents N.C. State, UNC and Virginia Tech.
Holland was born in Clinton on April 2, 1942. He was a multi-sport standout at Clinton High School.
He was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 2002 and Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2003. His No. 42 jersey at Davidson was retired in January of 2022 at Belk Arena.
Holland was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2019 and was living in a memory care facility in Charlottesville prior to his passing.
He is survived by his wife Ann, daughters Ann-Michael Holland and Kate Baynard, and three grandchildren — Holland, Harrison and Eliza-Grey.
His death brought reaction from across the college basketball world.
“Saddened by the passing of former Virginia head coach Terry Holland, one of the ACC’s greatest coaches, and one of the game’s finest gentlemen,” said ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas. “RIP Coach Holland.”
Kentucky coach John Calipari got to know Holland when Calipari was at Memphis in Conference USA.
“He’s known for his time at Virginia with Ralph Sampson but he was WAY more than that,” Calipari tweeted. “A great husband and father. He and his wife, Ann, always treated me like family. We lost a great man. RIP.”
In dealing with media, Holland was approachable, courteous, helpful and informative. That was his demeanor in general.
He was athletic director emeritus at ECU in 2013.
The Terry Holland Olympic Sports Complex on the southeast side of the Grady-White Boats Athletic Campus is home to the 1,000-seat ECU Softball Stadium, the 1,000-seat Johnson Soccer Stadium, the eight-lane Bate Foundation Track and Field Facility and a 20,000 square-foot administrative building. The $25 million site on Charles Boulevard was completed in 2011 and was named in honor of Holland on Nov. 21, 2014.
Unlike many who make a name for themselves at ECU, Holland was a legend when he arrived. But he didn’t rest on his laurels. He was a productive leader for Pirate Nation well beyond retirement age.
ECU had many cherished achievements for which Holland was ultimately responsible at the helm of the Pirate ship.