Virginia plays its games John Paul Jones Arena, one of the nicest facilities in college basketball. That the Cavaliers have that gem of a gym — and tradition enough to hang banners in its rafters honoring Final Four teams and Hall of Famers — can largely be credited to one man, former UVA coach and administrator Terry Holland.
A visitor to Charlottesville unfamiliar with the Cavaliers’ history might have a hard time figuring that out. It’s time Virginia finds a way to appropriately honor him.
It’s quite easy to guess who is the godfather of Cavalier football. George Welsh, who won two ACC titles and briefly had Virginia ranked No. 1 in the nation in 1990, has his name on a street and building. No such honors exist for Holland, even though his coaching achievements were as good or better.
Holland coached the Cavaliers to two Final Fours, won the ACC regular season three times and the conference tournament once, all while having to go head-to-head with Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and North Carolina’s Dean Smith.
That’s not to mention his work as Virginia’s athletic director and then special assistant to the university president. In those roles he spearheaded an $86 million expansion of football’s Scott Stadium and led the effort to fund and design John Paul Jones Arena.
Last month, at the school’s all-sports reunion, the Cavaliers held an event in Holland’s honor. Dozens of former players, including former National Player of the Year Ralph Sampson and Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, were there. While that was certainly a wonderful event, it also highlighted the point that Holland deserves a prominent and permanent place of honor at the university.
“Coach Holland is iconic to Virginia, UVA basketball, ACC basketball, and basketball in general,” Sampson told The Daily Progress that night.
“In my mind, he should be honored in any way possible. His name on the court, or whatever, because he’s meant so much to so many people. I think he should be honored at a very high level.”
There are some reasons why it hasn’t happened yet. First, Holland is remarkably humble and not the kind to seek out extra attention. Second, Holland spent a decade as the athletic director at East Carolina, and it’s understandable if neither he nor Virginia leadership wanted to hold a major event while he was an employee of another university.
At age 74, though, Holland is now fully retired from college athletics. The time is right for Virginia to honor his contributions to the school in a huge and meaningful way.
Whether it is taking Sampson’s suggestion and naming the JPJ court after him, or renaming the street that connects University Hall — the site of so many of his greatest victories — and John Paul Jones Arena “Terry Holland Drive,” placing his name in a prominent position is more than appropriate.
Virginia is in the midst of a hoops renaissance under Tony Bennett, with the Cavs reaching heights the program only previously saw with Holland as coach. It’s happened partly because of the recruiting advantage John Paul Jones and its accompanying training facilities provide.
It’s time to remind the rest of the world the role Holland played in both glory eras of Virginia basketball.