Aug. 31-Sept. 6, 2001
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Littlepage is named new AD
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Craig Littlepage
Photo by Matt Kelly
Newly appointed athletic director Craig Littlepage aanswers questions during a press conference in Bryant Hall.

Littlepage is named new AD

Staff Report

Craig Littlepage has been named athletics director, the first African American in the Atlantic Coast Conference to hold the post. He succeeds Terry Holland, who stepped down at the end of May to become a special assistant to U.Va. President John T. Casteen III.

Littlepage, 50, had served as interim director since June and held the same post for six months after Jim Copeland resigned in 1994. Littlepage has been a member of the U.Va. athletics administration since 1990, most recently as senior associate director.

“The search committee and I were impressed early in the search process by Craig’s standing among colleagues at peer institutions, within the ACC and the NCAA, and among our coaches and student-athletes,” Casteen said. “All identified his consistently strong leadership as a core element of the success we have enjoyed under both Jim Copeland and Terry Holland.

“In the end, after we looked carefully at a wide range of options, Craig emerged as our unanimous choice. Over the past decade he has stood out for his commitment to the overall well-being of our student-athletes, particularly their academic progress, and for his thoughtful, collegial approach to complex issues. Craig solves problems, believes in the University’s values, and embodies the concept of excellence that we try to promote in all that we undertake.

“Craig has the ability to lead our athletics programs to the next level, while at the same time maintaining our commitment to success in the classroom. The coming years pose challenges of several kinds, including financial challenges. I believe that Craig’s experience prepares him in unique ways to continue building on the foundations already laid, while addressing larger issues that confront all major collegiate athletics programs,” Casteen said.

Women to the tee

Littlepage made one of his first decisions on his second day as AD — naming women’s golf the 25th intercollegiate sport at U.Va. The team will begin competing during the 2003-04 academic year.

“To a great extent, women’s golf at the University of Virginia is possible as a result of the generosity of William C. Eacho Jr., whose gift of $1.4 million helped create an endowment for funding women’s golf scholarships,” Littlepage said.

With the addition of women’s golf, Virginia will have 13 intercollegiate sports for women and 12 for men. Golf is one of the men’s sports.

Littlepage has served on a number of committees and governing bodies of both the Atlantic Coast Conference and the National Collegiate Athletics Association. He recently was named to a three-year term on the NCAA Committee on Infractions, which deals with major violations of NCAA rules. From 1997-2000, he was a member of the NCAA Academics, Eligibility and Compliance Cabinet, chairing that group’s recruiting and student-athlete reinstatement subcommittees.

“This is a special moment for me, and I am thrilled with the opportunity to take over the leadership of the Department of Athletics at this time in our program’s history,” Littlepage said. “We have big challenges ahead, but with the commitment and continued hard work of our staff, student-athletes, faculty and loyal followers, we can continue to build and reach for higher levels of success, both academically and athletically.”

At an Aug. 21 press conference, Littlepage spoke emotionally about the significance of becoming the first African-American athletic director in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference. First noting that his 12-year-old son, Murray, had recently expressed a desire to become an athletic director, he halted a few moments to compose himself, then said he had been hearing from aspiring black administrators around the country.

“They said, ‘Craig, if you can’t get hired at the University of Virginia, what does that say about our goals? You have to get hired — they can’t hire anybody else,’” he recalled.

A 1973 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School with a degree in economics, he has had extensive collegiate coaching experience. He was head men’s basketball coach at Penn (1982-85) and Rutgers (1985-88) and an assistant coach at Villanova, Yale and, for eight years, at U.Va. under Holland (1976-82 and 1988-90).

He says his top priorities are to keep the department financially healthy — estimating that the University needs to increase its annual athletics budget by up to $9 million to reach the level of the top-10 athletic programs in the country — and to maintain academic integrity.

As athletics director, he succeeds Holland, who stepped down at the end of May to become a special assistant to Casteen, focusing on plans for a new arena and special events center at U.Va.

Littlepage is married to the former Margaret Murray of Charlottesville. The couple has three children, Erica (15), Murray (12) and Erin (10).

At the press conference, Casteen expressed appreciation for the prompt, thorough work of the search committee. “I am grateful to the committee for the seriousness with which it approached this task, for the care with which it has exercised its duties and obviously for its success in bringing forward the person we are recognizing today.

“The consensus was that we have in-house here at the University one of the best athletic administrators in the country.”


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