Former UVA greats toast U-Hall for the final time

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- After 64 years, Virginia men's and women's basketball greats gathered to toast University Hall one last time as the "House That Ralph Built" came down.

"It's an amazing ride to have some of those guys here and I couldn't come here and implode this building without those guys," UVA legend Ralph Sampson said, a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Sampson, two-time Naismith Player of the Year Dawn Staley, UVA Board of Visitors member Robert Hardie and Director of Athletics Carla Williams combined to push the trigger to set off the U-Hall implosion. Just before the implosion, Sampson offered a toast saying the end of U-Hall is a bittersweet day.

"It's a sad day, I call it a funeral, it's the death of a great building," Sampson said, who played at U-Hall from 1980-83. "But it's the birth of UVA athletics in a new generation."

Former players and coaches like Debbie Ryan took time to catch up and share memories of their former home, remembering all the faces that came with U-Hall.

"It is something that is etched in our hearts," Staley said, who played for Virginia from 1988-92. "The fans and all the people that made this a special place to walk into every day and feel good and it created smiles."

The poetic timing was not lost on many there, just more than a month after the Virginia men's basketball team cut down the nets in Minneapolis, it was time to close U-Hall's chapter.

"Any time that you close one chapter, you have a chance to open a new one," former UVA great Bryant Stith said, who played from 1989-92. "Although I'm sad to see University Hall go, I'm very excited about the future of Virginia basketball."



 
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