Leitao leaves DePaul after three seasons

Updated: April 16, 2005, 4:29 PM ET
Associated Press

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Dave Leitao was hired as Virginia's basketball coach Saturday, leaving DePaul for the Atlantic Coast Conference and hoping to revive a team that went 14-15 last season.


He succeeds Pete Gillen, who resigned under pressure after seven seasons and just one NCAA Tournament appearance. Leitao agreed to a five-year contract at $925,000 annually.

The 44-year-old Leitao becomes the first black head coach at Virginia in any sport.

The university scheduled a news conference for Sunday to introduce Leitao. DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto had said Friday that Leitao accepted the Virginia job.

"I look forward to establishing a standard of commitment to excellence that will enhance the life of every student athlete who becomes a member of the Virginia basketball family," Leitao said in statement released by the Virginia athletic department.

Ponsetto commended Leitao on Saturday for his "tremendous class, integrity and dedication to producing student-athletes." He added that DePaul will immediately begin looking for a new coach.

Leitao's DePaul teams went 58-34 over three years and played in the postseason each year. DePaul was 20-11 last season and advanced to the second round of the NIT.

"DePaul will always have a special place in my heart," Leitao said.

He is now 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.

Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage did not say how much Virginia paid to buy out the final six years of Leitao's contract at DePaul, where he was making $660,000 a year.

Leitao's compensation at Virginia will be slightly more than the $900,000 a year Gillen was making. Gillen stepped down with six years remaining on a 10-year contract and received a $2 million buyout March 14.

Leitao also spent two seasons as coach at his alma mater, Northeastern, and did two stints as an assistant to Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun. Calhoun has praised his protege to Virginia president John T. Casteen III, who was president at Connecticut before moving to Virginia.

Casteen called Leitao "one of the country's most highly regarded young coaches."

"As we work to rebuild a program that has enjoyed and richly deserves prominence in the ACC and NCAA, Dave's leadership and example matter in critical ways," Casteen said.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press