It's Official, Dave Leitao "Quit" As Head Coach of Virginia

Ben GibsonSenior Analyst IMarch 17, 2009

ESPN's Andy Katz spoke with former Virginia basketball coach Dave Leitao last night about his abrupt resignation after four years at the helm.

Leitao's response was far from surprising.

According to Katz, Leitao was told via the phone that a change was being made.  He had the choice of either resigning or being fired.  Leitao, wisely, decided to leave on his own accord but clearly this is a battle of semantics more than anything else.

The faith in giving Leitao one more year seemed to vanish with one more clunker performance, this time in the ACC tournament against Boston College.

This puts the ball clearly in the court of Athletic Director Craig Littlepage. 

With $2.1 million spent to show Leitao the door and millions more needed to land these rumored coaches like Tubby Smith or Jeff Capel, Littlepage must realize his legacy is on the line with his upcoming decision. 

Littlepage is saying the same thing he was saying in 2005 when Pete Gillen was shown the door.  He promised a significant hire, someone who would make the University proud and be the man to lead Virginia into a new era and a new arena.

Maybe Leitao looked the part, but now he looks the part of unemployed after a 63-60 record.

Instead of landing a big name, Littlepage whiffed and found a long-time Connecticut assistant to lead a team for a school led by a former UConn school President.

Well now Littlepage has a redo and he needs to make it count.

Littlepage knows a little something about basketball, a long-time assistant, including some time on the staff with Virginia's legendary Terry Holland. 

Littlepage was even the chairman of the NCAA Committee in 2005-06, the year that George Mason was put into the tournament despite a storm of controversy.  He had to sit there and listen to Billy Packer call him crazy as he defended the debated decision.

Guess he got the last laugh on that one right? 

It's not like Littlepage doesn't understand what uncompromised excellence means because he saw it first hand with Holland.  It was Littlepage who wrote the ten-year plan that outlined just what would be deemed acceptable and unacceptable levels of success for Virginia and its 25 men's and women's programs.

Little did Littlepage know he may have been writing his own obituary when he laid down the sporting law.

Littlepage must recognize that fans saw the level of national success of the 1980s in basketball and the early 1990s in football that most programs can only dream about.

They realize if it happened then, it can happen again.

Of course it'd be easier if Terry Holland and George Welsh were coming through that door, which they are not.

Ironically, it was the beloved Holland that Littlepage would eventually supplant as the athletic director at Virginia. 

Holland's last big move as AD was to land famed alum and former NFL coach Al Groh from the New York Jets. 

It was a decision that many labeled as genius at the time but one that has marred Littlepage's legacy since taking over in 2001.

Groh has achieved uncompromised mediocrity and raised the ire of Virginia fans.  The poor performances in both revenue sports mixed with a terrible economy has put a great deal of pressure on Littlepage to show that he can get the job done.

That is not to say Littlepage is without success.  Under his tenure, Virginia has won numerous national championships, finished annually in the Top 25 in the Director's Cup Standings, raised impressive funds for facility upgrades and procured a large amount of ACC Championships.

However, there are only so many tennis, lacrosse and soccer wins that can replace the frustration of losing in football and basketball on nationally televised beat downs.

Leitao may have been allowed to leave, but if the upcoming month does not provide a big spash in men's basketball, Littlepage may not have that same luxury in 2010.