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Virginia Athletics Director Craig Littlepage talks retirement in press conference

Members of University athletics and beyond acknowledge Littlepage’s success, dedication

<p>Craig Littlepage announced his retirement Tuesday after 16 years as director of athletics.&nbsp;</p>

Craig Littlepage announced his retirement Tuesday after 16 years as director of athletics. 

As announced Tuesday, University Athletics Director Craig Littlepage will retire from his role and transition into a part-time role in the University President’s Office. 

In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, an emotional Littlepage reflected on the athletic excellence he’s established, the relationships he’s built and the memories he’s made throughout his impressive career in intercollegiate athletics. 

“You’re looking at a guy who’s beaten the odds administratively,” Littlepage said. “The program is in great shape, so it’s time to move on.” 

Littlepage is 66 years old and in his 16th year in the role.

“Whether or not I was going to retire was not a very difficult decision — not difficult at all. The most difficult thing for me was the when,” Littlepage said. “The difficulty in knowing that looking for the perfect time, searching for that most precise moment, was distracting and was creating uncertainty. I discovered that there’s no perfect time to do something like this.” 

The difficulty of the day for Littlepage was obvious — no poker face could hide Littlepage’s passion for what he does and what he’s leaving behind in retirement. 

“I can’t allow for this department and so much good work to suffer from the paralysis of uncertainty,” Littlepage said. “So I leave with the department in great shape, I leave it in a position of strength in my opinion, and because of that, there’s no doubt in my mind that we’re going to find an exceptional leader who’s going to be able to continue the hard work that’s been done.” 

In his tenure as the University’s director of athletics, Littlepage has built a program rooted in integrity — a feat only possible for someone who wholeheartedly embodies the trait himself. As accolades and praise from many leaders throughout the athletics community indicate, Craig Littlepage is such a man. 

“[Littlepage] consistently exhibits unqualified class, grace and dignity, while diligently leading our entire cohort of colleagues around the non-negotiable standard of integrity,” Kevin White, Vice President and Director of Athletics at Duke, said. “To say the very least, Craig and Margaret [Littlepage] have had an indelible impact on the entire higher education enterprise, well beyond the University of Virginia.”

His accomplishments span far beyond the Charlottesville city limits, but he recalled that the ones that occurred here are some of the most memorable. From overseeing the construction of John Paul Jones Arena to bringing in coaches like Tony Bennett and Bronco Mendenhall to re-establish the Cavalier programs — the feats that laid the foundation for excellence are his favorite.  

“I’ve been one that likes to celebrate successes, but our staff will tell you that it’s always about what’s next,” Littlepage said. “From that standpoint, yeah, there are things that I would have like to have accomplished, but that has to be tempered with all the good that has been accomplished. My goal was to leave this the very best program in the country … In certain areas we are the best. We provide the best, or among the best, experience for student athletes anywhere in the country.”

Littlepage has served the University for more than 30 years, from his time as an assistant coach with the Cavalier men’s basketball program to joining the University athletics administration in 1990 — he has given Virginia a lifetime of leadership and lessons. He and his wife, Margaret, plan to stay in Charlottesville and continue their support of Virginia athletics, but now as fans. 

“Craig [Littlepage] has been a tremendous example to all of us who work in the athletics department. The touch and influence he has had on U.Va. athletes will be felt for decades to come,” said head football coach Bronco Mendenhall. 

Littlepage is optimistic about the future of the program he’s built, even if he’s no longer at the helm. 

“There’s no doubt that whoever comes next has a great opportunity to do even better,” he said. “And that’s my goal — I hope that whoever comes in does even better.”