“I’m no cutthroat, but I am d— competitive,” Holland said after he was hired by Virginia following five seasons as coach at Davidson, his alma mater.
Holland led Virginia to its first ACC tournament championship in 1976, in only his second season. He would take the program to even greater heights after recruiting 7-foot-4 Harrisonburg High center Ralph Sampson to Charlottesville in 1979.
Led by Sampson and senior guard Jeff Lamp, the Cavaliers went 29-4 during the 1980-81 season, which ended with a loss to North Carolina in the national semifinals. Virginia made a surprising run to the Final Four under Holland in 1984, the year after Sampson, the three-time national college player of the year, was the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.
“Virginia Athletics mourns the loss of legendary men’s basketball coach, Terry Holland, who first showed us what Virginia basketball could be,” the school said in a statement on Monday.
“I think if you boil it all down, I’m not sure U-Va. athletics would be in the position it is now across the board if not for Coach Holland, and along with that, Ralph Sampson,” Old Dominion Coach Jeff Jones, who played for Holland from 1978 to 1982 and succeeded him as Virginia’s coach, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which first reported the news of Holland’s death.
Jones, Dave Odom, Craig Littlepage, Jim Larrañaga and Seth Greenberg are among the former assistants who found success as head coaches after working under Holland.
“RIP Coach Holland,” Greenberg, the former Virginia Tech coach who now serves as an analyst for ESPN, wrote Monday on Twitter. “I was fortunate to have you as a mentor and a friend. You helped guide me through almost every major decision I have made in my adult life.”
RIP Coach Holland. I was fortunate to have you as a mentor and a friend. You helped guide me through almost every major decision I have made in my adult life. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/hXb2BDdIhB
— Seth Greenberg (@SethOnHoops) February 27, 2023
Before his coaching career, Holland, a Clinton, N.C., native, starred at Davidson for legendary coach Lefty Driesell. Holland averaged 13.5 points per game and led the nation in field goal percentage (.631) as a 6-foot-7 senior forward in 1963-64 before joining Driesell’s staff. Holland was promoted to head coach after Driesell left to take the Maryland job in 1969 and his replacement, future Hall of Famer Larry Brown, resigned after less than two months on the job.
Holland led Davidson to 92 wins and an NCAA tournament berth in his five seasons before then-Virginia athletic director Gene Corrigan hired him to replace Bill Gibson in 1974. Before Holland arrived, Virginia had managed four winning campaigns in the previous 25 seasons and had never made an NCAA tournament. Holland’s Virginia teams posted only three losing seasons and qualified for the NCAA tournament in eight of his final 10 seasons at the school.
In June 1989, Holland announced he had accepted an offer to become the athletic director at Davidson, and that the 1989-90 season would be his final one at U-Va. Holland returned to Virginia in 1994 as athletic director, a position he held until 2001. After serving as a fundraising special assistant to then-Virginia president John Casteen for three years, Holland was the athletic director at East Carolina from 2004 to 2013.
“As both a successful coach and respected administrator, Terry Holland leaves an indelible imprint on the University of Virginia, the ACC, college basketball and college athletics,” ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips said in a statement. “He was a true gentleman that embraced his players and colleagues as family. Our hearts will remain with his wife Ann and the entire Holland family.”
As Bennett closed in on his Virginia wins record, Holland’s wife, Ann, said her husband “was so honored when I told him that.”
“Terry so was good at developing his players and not letting them do things they weren’t going to be successful doing,” Ann Holland told UVA Today in December. “And I think Tony Bennett is a lot like that.”
Holland is survived by his wife, daughters Ann-Michael Holland and Kate Baynard, and three grandchildren.