Virginia sports semester in review

Looking back at a timeline of notable Cavalier sports events

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Carla Williams was introduced as Virginia's next athletic director in late October of this year. 

Hannah Mussi | Cavalier Daily

June 30 — Men’s and women’s squash added as varsity sports 

Virginia Director of Athletics Craig Littlepage announced that Virginia would be adding men’s and women’s squash as varsity sport programs, becoming the first Power Five school to sponsor men’s squash, and the only Power Five school other than Stanford to sponsor a women’s squash program. While collegiate squash is not an NCAA-sponsored sport, it is governed by the College Squash Association. Both the Virginia men’s and women’s squash teams had previously been competing as club sports. The squash teams compete at the McArthur Squash Center, which will undergo a nine-million dollar expansion which was approved under the Board of Visitors’ capital project list. 

Sept. 5 — Craig Littlepage announced retirement as Virginia Director of Athletics 

Littlepage was the first African-American athletic director in the ACC and oversaw the University’s athletic department since 2001. Under Littlepage’s direction, Virginia saw its most successful athletics era, winning seven NCAA team championships and 53 ACC championships during the period from 2002 to 2012. Student-athletes also saw success in the classroom, as during this period Virginia graduated 93 percent of student-athletes who completed their eligibility. During the 2016-17 academic year, 323 athletes were named to the 2016-17 ACC Academic Honor Roll. The construction of John Paul Jones Arena also occurred during Littlepage’s tenure.

Oct. 22 — Carla Williams named new Virginia Director of Athletics

University President Teresa Sullivan announced Carla Williams as successor to Craig Littlepage. Williams served as the deputy athletic director for the University of Georgia, and has been involved in the athletics administration at Georgia for the past 13 years. Williams will be the first female African-American athletic director at a Power Five school and the fifth active female athletics director at the Power Five level. Williams played basketball for Georgia before playing professionally for one year in Spain and then rejoined the program to serve as assistant coach. She then moved into athletics administration, completing her Ph.D. in sport administration at Florida State. 

Nov. 4 — Virginia football became bowl eligible

Virginia football became bowl eligible, reaching six wins with a 40-36 victory over Georgia Tech. The Cavaliers punched their ticket to a bowl berth for the first time since 2011. After moving to 5-1 after the first six games in the season, which included a surprising win over Boise State, Virginia lost two in a row against ACC foes Boston College and Pittsburgh. In what was a rainy, chilly affair, the Cavaliers earned their win over Georgia Tech by overcoming two deficits, rallying from being down 15 points in the third quarter, and taking the lead again after being down by three points in the fourth quarter. Sunday, Dec. 3, it was announced that Virginia will face Navy in the Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman, which will take place Thursday, Dec. 28 in Annapolis, Md. 

Nov. 24 — Virginia football breaks records

In Virginia football’s annual matchup against rival Virginia Tech, senior quarterback Kurt Benkert broke Virginia’s single-season passing record. Although the Cavaliers failed to put points on the board in a dismal 10-0 loss to the Hokies, Benkert sealed the record with a 51-yard pass to senior wide receiver Andre Levrone to reach his 280th completion of the season. Benkert became the first Virginia player to reach 3,000 passing yards in a season. On Oct. 28 against Pittsburgh, senior safety Quin Blanding broke the Virginia record for tackles completed in a season. Blanding recorded 436 tackles to break the record, which was previously held by Jamie Sharper, who played for Virginia from 1993-96. 

Dec. 2 — Virginia men’s basketball gets off to a hot start 

Virginia men’s basketball has jumped out to a tie for first in the Atlantic Coast Conference after starting undefeated with a 8-0 record. The Cavaliers, who began the season unranked, have moved up in the AP men’s basketball rankings to No. 18, and are expected to move up further after this week’s victories over Wisconsin and Lehigh. Virginia is led by sophomore guard Kyle Guy, who is averaging 16.6 points per game. The Cavaliers have been demonstrating their signature Tony Bennett pack-line defense, and held Wisconsin to their lowest point total since 2011, keeping the Badgers to only 37 points Monday, Nov. 27. Virginia faces off against No. 19 West Virginia Tuesday before the break for final exams. 

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