Former ECU Athletic Director Dies at 80

Published 8:48 am Tuesday, February 28, 2023

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Terry Holland, who led the East Carolina University athletics department during one of the Pirates’ most successful periods, has passed away at the age of 80.

From campuses in Davidson to Charlottesville and Greenville, and in many basketball arenas across the nation and globe, Holland created a legacy and earned a reputation as a well-respected leader in collegiate athletics for nearly five decades. In the aspect of athletics administration, he has left enduring marks as director of programs at Davidson and Virginia, and led ECU to unmatched heights in intercollegiate competition, academic success and facility growth.

During his near 10-year run as ECU’s Director of Athletics (2004-12) and in the Director of Athletics Emeritus Role (2013), Holland’s fingerprints are firmly secured on the revitalization of a once-proud football tradition that included back-to-back C-USA football titles in 2008 and 2009, a division co-championship in 2012 and six bowl appearances. The on-the-field success enabled East Carolina to enjoy unrivaled record-breaking numbers at the turnstiles as well – breaking stadium standards for total attendance and average attendance in five consecutive seasons (2008-12) – allowing for a 7,000-seat expansion at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium that pushed the facility’s capacity to 50,000 in time for the 2010 campaign.

Holland orchestrated an aggressive scheduling plan through 2020 which elevated public perception, national interest and growth of Pirate Football with annual home and road regional rivalry games against Atlantic Coast Conference members Duke, North Carolina, N.C. State, Virginia and Virginia Tech, along with contests versus former Big East power and Big 12 newcomer West Virginia and Southeastern Conference contender South Carolina. In basketball, he was able to schedule first-time home contests against Clemson, Wake Forest and NC State inside Minges Coliseum.

East Carolina’s other sports programs have also prospered under Holland’s direction, earning C-USA regular season and tournament championships or qualifying for NCAA postseason appearances in baseball, women’s basketball, men’s and women’s golf, women’s soccer, softball, women’s swimming and men’s and women’s track.

In the classroom, a total of 973 Pirate student-athletes were selected to the C-USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll and 213 were recipients of the league’s top academic medal since 2008 alone. During the 2009-2010 year, nearly half (nine) of ECU sports netted a perfect Academic Progress Rate (APR) score of 1,000.

Holland, who was introduced at a news conference in Greenville Sept. 8, 2004 and officially began his duties Oct. 1, took over the top athletics leadership position at ECU after assisting the president in a fundraising and marketing role at Virginia since 2001.

Holland first came to Virginia in 1974 as head men’s basketball coach, and over the next 16 seasons became the most successful coach in Cavalier history with a record of 326-173. He helped lead the Cavaliers to a pair of Final Four appearances (1981 and 1984) and a National Invitational Tournament title (1980) while earning two Atlantic Coast Conference Coach-of-the-Year awards.

In 1990, he returned to alma mater Davidson College to become its athletic director, but five years later he was back in Charlottesville to take on similar duties at Virginia, and in 1999, was named of the 50 most influential figures in ACC basketball history by theĀ Charlotte Observer.

Holland, a Clinton, N.C. native, earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Davidson in 1964 after earning three letters as a member of the Wildcats’ varsity basketball program. He began his coaching career at Davidson as an assistant coach in 1964 and was soon promoted to the top position five years later where he earned three SoCon Coach-of-the-Year selections.

In all, Holland completed his basketball coaching career with a total of 418 wins in 21 seasons, an impressive average of 19.8 wins per year.

Holland was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 2002 and Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2003. His No. 42 jersey from Davidson was retired in January of 2022 in Belk Arena.

He is survived by his wife Ann, daughters Ann-Michael Holland and Kate Baynard, and three grandchildren Holland, Harrison and Eliza-Grey.