Gillen steps down as men's basketball coach
U.Va., plans to name his successor in four to six weeks
Rich Murray and Carol Wood
Craig K. Littlepage, director of athletics, announced March 14 that Pete Gillen would step down as the men’s basketball coach, effective immediately.
Littlepage said that during recent discussions, he and Gillen concluded the time was right for Gillen to leave U.Va.’s basketball program. “The team did not reach the goals we thought were achievable entering the 2004-2005 season,” Littlepage said. “There is, however, a solid foundation in place provided by Pete and his staff. We have good young players in the program who will provide us the opportunity for success.”
Gillen, who has been at U.Va. for seven years, said he believes his decision is in the best interest of the program. “I have said many times the University of Virginia is a special place, and I still feel that way. I appreciate the opportunity given to me as the head coach and feel it is in the best interest of all that I step aside at this time,” he said. “I am proud of the hard work of the players and assistant coaches I’ve worked with at Virginia. I also appreciate the chance to have worked with President Casteen and Craig Littlepage. The University has always been a first-class operation and I wish them all the best.”
Asked to comment, University President John T. Casteen III said, “It is bittersweet for everyone who has come to know Pete and who follows the progress of Virginia basketball. Few people give as much as Pete has given to this community. His compassion, personal ethics, and community leadership will linger here long after he and his staff have moved on to their next challenges. We have appreciated and enjoyed Pete enormously, and we will miss him.”
Littlepage also expressed his appreciation for Gillen’s commitment to the University and to its surrounding communities. “Pete has been a valued member of our community, and everyone here wishes him well in his future endeavors.”
The search for a men’s head basketball coach will begin immediately and is expected to take four to six weeks. “All of the resources I have within the basketball and University communities will be utilized in the hiring of our next coach,” Littlepage said. “This is an attractive coaching opportunity for a top-performing candidate when you consider the reputation of the University of Virginia, the opening of the John Paul Jones Arena in the summer of 2006 and our membership in the Atlantic Coast Conference.”
Littlepage said he would be looking for a coach who will have the men’s basketball program on the upswing as the University moves closer to the opening of the new arena. “We are committed to having the kind of facility and the kind of team that everyone can be proud of,” he added.
Gillen’s seven Virginia teams compiled an overall record of 118–93 and competed in five postseason tournaments. The Cavaliers participated in the 2001 NCAA Tournament and in the National Invitation Tournament four times.
Under the terms of Gillen’s contract, he will receive a buyout of approximately $2 million.