Leitao leaving DePaul after three seasons

Updated: April 16, 2005, 12:41 AM ET
Associated Press

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- DePaul's Dave Leitao has accepted an offer to become Virginia's men's basketball coach, his former athletic director confirmed Friday night.

"I'm absolutely confirming. Coach Leitao told me he took the job at Virginia," DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto told The Associated Press.

Leitao
Leitao

Leitao's hiring will be formally announced Saturday, ending a 4½-week search that followed Pete Gillen's resignation on March 14, a Virginia source told the AP.

The hiring of Leitao, first reported by ESPN's Dick Vitale, ends a lengthy pursuit by Virginia. It received permission from DePaul to speak with the 44-year-old Leitao about the job last Friday and flew him to campus for a tour on Thursday. Leitao agreed to make the move Friday.

Leitao informed the Blue Demons of his decision Friday night, the school said.

The terms of Leitao's contract have not yet been finalized, a source at the university said, but will be before the formal announcement is made.

Leitao, who will become the first black head coach at Virginia in any sport, is charged with energizing a program about to enter its most ambitious period ever. The school plans to open the $130 million, 15,000-seat John Paul Jones Arena for the 2006 season.

Gillen resigned under pressure after the Cavaliers were 14-15 in his seventh season. The Cavaliers only advanced to the NCAA Tournament once. He stepped down with six years remaining on a 10-year contract and received a $2 million buyout March 14.

The school also will apparently compensate DePaul handsomely. The Chicago Sun-Times reported Virginia will have to pay more than $3 million to buy out the final six years of Leitao's contract, renegotiated after St. John's and Auburn pursued him last year.

DePaul has declined to confirm the terms of any potential buyout.

Besides DePaul, Leitao spent two seasons as a head coach at his alma mater, Northeastern, and did two stints as an assistant to Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun, who has sung the praises of his protege to Virginia president John T. Casteen III.

Casteen was the president at Connecticut before moving to Virginia.

Leitao had a 58-34 record in three years at DePaul, reaching the NCAA Tournament two years ago and the NIT this year, losing in the second round to Texas A&M. The three-year stretch is DePaul's best since it first joined a conference in 1991.

Ponsetto said Leitao will be missed.

"In his three seasons with our program, Dave has shown tremendous class, integrity and dedication to producing student-athletes that DePaul University can be proud of on the playing floor and in the community. We wish him well at Virginia," she said.

DePaul will begin its search for a new coach immediately, Ponsetto said.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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