Craig Littlepage is retiring after 16 years as Virginia’s athletic director.
Littlepage made the announcement Tuesday and added that he will remain in the job until a replacement is hired, then transition into a role in the university president’s office.
He became the first black athletic director in Atlantic Coast Conference history when he was hired in 2001. Among the biggest accomplishments in Littlepage’s tenure was the construction of $130 million John Paul Jones Arena, where home basketball games are played; the construction of an indoor practice facility for football and significant upgrades to Davenport Field, where the baseball team plays.
Virginia also has enjoyed success on the playing field, winning 13 national championships and 76 ACC titles since 2002, the latter leading the conference.
“There is a sense of great pride in the accomplishments of our program since taking over as AD in 2001,” Littlepage said in a release from the school. “When I reflect on the great coaches that have come here, the facilities, and talented student-athletes, I can move ahead knowing the athletics program has a great foundation.”
Littlepage began his career at Virginia as an assistant basketball coach, from 1976-82 and again from 1988-90 before moving into an administrative role. He was an assistant athletics director in 1990-1991, then spent four years as the associate director of athletics for programs and six years as senior associate director of athletics. In that position he managed all aspects of the athletics department’s day-to-day operations. He replaced Terry Holland as athletic director in 2001.
ACC Commissioner John Swofford is among those who praised Littlepage.
“Craig is one of the most highly respected individuals within the ACC, among his peers, and across the overall landscape of collegiate athletics,” Swofford said. “Even more impressive is how remarkable he is as a person, which is why I’ve always described him as one of the true gentlemen in our profession.”
Val Ackerman, commissioner of the Big East Conference and a former basketball player at Virginia, said, “Virginia athletics are synonymous with excellence and integrity, and much of the credit for that belongs to Craig Littlepage, a class act in every way. Legions of Wahoo student-athletes have Craig to thank for bringing them a one-of-a-kind life experience, and UVA supporters around the country can take enormous pride in being associated with one of most accomplished and best-run operations in college sports.
“Craig’s long-standing contributions to basketball have also been a tremendous service to the game. He’ll be greatly missed.”
Littlepage has also served on numerous NCAA committees, including a five-year term on the Division I men’s basketball committee and one year as chair.
He previously was a member of the NCAA Division I Infractions Committee and the NCAA Academics, Eligibility and Compliance Cabinet, and has participated as a presenter and mentor to the NCAA’s Ethnic Minority Male Institute, the Black Coaches and Administrator Association and other NCAA leadership development programs designed to help aspiring athletics administrators and head coach candidates in football and basketball.
By HANK KURZ Jr., AP Sports Writer