December 5, 2020

Independent analysis and commentary on UVA athletics

The Ted Williams of ADs

No athletics director in college is doing better at hitting for power and batting for average than UVA AD Carla Williams.  Some might hit more home runs and some might have a higher batting average, but nobody is doing them both like UVA’s Williams.  Her latest is a solo home run in the fifth inning with the hire of Vin Lananna to head up the Cavaliers’ track & field and cross-country program.

Friend of the site ChiTownHoo brought the hire to our attention in an email.  ChiTown is a long-time supporter of the track & field program and certainly knows his stuff about the sport and the program.  He could not have been more excited, writing with an effusiveness usually reserved for paeans to Tony Bennett:

today Carla Williams secured a hire that will either go largely unnoticed by or garner a shrug from the greater UVA fandom, but will have a significant impact on the “Master Plan.” We hired Vin Lananna to be our Associate AD and Director of Track+Field/Cross Country. As an alum of UVA Track/XC, I can tell you this is probably the biggest hire any university could realistically make in the sport. I spent a majority of my afternoon texting fellow TF/CC fans “HOLY SHIT WHAT A FUCKING HIRE.” This is a PULL – no one in the track world (that I know of) had any clue he was even on the market.

I encourage you and everyone else to read the article VirginiaSports posted in that linked tweet as it lists out his decorated history.  In that story he is quoted about his appreciation of Carla’s vision:

“I am immensely excited about the opportunity to work with the world class students and staff at the University of Virginia,” Lananna said. “I have been fortunate to have worked with terrific leaders in the world of sport and in the world of business. Carla Williams’ vision for UVA athletics is clear, bold and inspirational. I am humbled to join the incredible UVA coaching staff, the professional administrators and the Charlottesville community. I cannot wait to get started.”

The reason I think this is important and exciting is that not only is he the most recent President of USA Track+Field and the most recent head coach of the 2016 USA Men’s Olympic Track team in Rio….but that he has significant experience as an administrator and (crucially for the #MasterPlan) in seeing through massive structural overhauls with an end goal in sight. He recently oversaw the decision to close down legendary Hayward Field at Oregon to be renovated for two years…a controversial decision to be sure, they even had to re-locate the annual Prefontaine Classic, but the result? They’ll be hosting the WORLD Track+Field Championships in 2021. Oh, of course, that also means that he decided our University of Virginia was so WORTH IT that he is leaving Eugene, with no prior UVA connections, less than 2 years before his work pays off. I think that willingness to change something with a superior vision in mind, even if that thing is already working, will make him a great/impactful addition to Carla’s AD team as they bring UVA Athletics into the 21st century and beyond. Honestly, I still can’t believe that he’s now a Hoo.

Very pumped for what is ahead and the direction our University’s Athletics continue to take.

— ChiTownHoo



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