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The Virginian - Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)
Virginia's looking for an athletic director for the first time in 16 years.
Craig Littlepage announced Tuesday that he's retiring and will move into a role in the office of the school president. He will stay as AD until a hire is made.
A national search will begin "in the near future," according to a statement from the athletic department.
Littlepage became the ACC's first black athletic director when he was appointed on Aug. 21, 2001. During his tenure, U.Va. built John Paul Jones Arena, where home basketball games are played, and oversaw huge successes among the Cavaliers' athletic teams.
Virginia has won 13 national championships and a conference-leading 76 ACC titles since 2002.
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.
"It's hard to believe how fast the last 16 years as the director of athletics at U.Va. have gone," Littlepage said in a statement . "Overall, to have worked and lived in Charlottesville and the university community for 35 of the last 41 years is truly a blessing. After much thought and consideration, I realized this was the right time for me to step aside.
"There is a sense of great pride in the accomplishments of our program since taking over as AD in 2001. 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 offered thanks to many, including his family, administrative staff, coaches and athletes. He also noted the support he got from school presidents John Casteen and Terry Sullivan.
"None of what we've achieved could have been done without the collective efforts of everyone that loves the university and our athletics program. I will always be a Cavalier and look forward to continuing to follow the success of Virginia athletics."
He becomes the second high-ranking athletic official to announce his departure. Last week, executive associate AD Jon Oliver, who was instrumental in hiring men's basketball coach Tony Bennett and football coach Bronco Mendenhall, said he was leaving U.Va. He had been the No. 2 official in athletics during Littlepage's tenure.
Fellow ACC athletic directors praised Littlepage.
"Craig has obviously accomplished so much during his remarkable run at Virginia and has made a significant impact overall on college athletics, all with the highest of class and integrity," Louisville's Tom Jurich said. "He and his wife, Margaret, have been wonderful to my wife, Terrilynn, and I since our university joined the ACC. We wish them both the best in his retirement."
Added Duke's Kevin White: "Craig Littlepage is unequivocally a pinnacle leader within the entire intercollegiate athletics community. Craig consistently exhibits unqualified class, grace and dignity, while diligently leading our entire cohort of colleagues around the non-negotiable standard of integrity."
ACC commissioner John Swofford said Littlepage will be missed.
"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."
Littlepage previously was a member of the NCAA Division I Infractions Committee and the NCAA Academics, Eligibility and Compliance Cabinet, serving on the Recruiting and Student-Athlete Reinstatement Subcommittees. He chaired the Reinstatement Subcommittee in 1999-2000.
He also served the NCAA on committees that studied sports wagering, postgame crowd control, basketball issues and the College Basketball Partnership. He 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.
Before beginning his career in athletics administration, Littlepage served two stints as an assistant coach with U.Va.'s men's basketball program, from 1976-82 and from 1988-90.
Littlepage held head men's basketball coaching positions at Pennsylvania (1982-85) and Rutgers (1985-88) before returning to Virginia. While he was at Penn, his alma mater, the Quakers won the Ivy League championship and participated in the 1985 NCAA tournament.
Littlepage was an assistant basketball coach at Villanova for two years and at Yale for one year before joining the U.Va. program as an assistant coach in 1976.
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