• Copeland served as AD at both Virginia and William and Mary
  • He played on the offense line in football for Virginia
  • Services will be Tuesday



Jim Copeland was remembered Saturday as a Hall of Fame athletic director and a gentleman of integrity, humility and humor.

Copeland, a former AD at William and Mary and the University of Virginia, died Friday evening at his Charlottesville home surrounded by family. He was 65 and had battled cancer for more than four years.

A Charlottesville native and 1967 U.Va. graduate, Copeland played offensive line for the Cavaliers and NFL's Cleveland Browns. After retiring from football, Copeland began his administraive career, at his alma mater.

"I always knew that Jim, to the best of his ability, was going to do the right thing," said Lawson Drinkard, an athletic department fundraiser at U.Va. during Copeland's tenure. "There's not but so many of those people around."

Drinkard was among several friends who in the last six weeks began raising money for an endowed Jefferson Scholarship at Virginia in Copeland's name. The group's goal was $125,000 by July 1.

As of Saturday, they had pledges for $476,000 from approximately 85 donors.

"The outpouring and generosity have been extraordinary," Drinkard said. "I can't tell you that's surprising, given the person we are doing it for."

The group planned to inform Copeland of the scholarship at a small party Saturday afternoon. He passed away 16 hours before, but not before his wife, Susan, told him about the grant.

Kim Record, an associate athletic director at Virginia under Copeland and now the AD at UNC Greensboro, laughed at the timing.

"He hated parties," she said, "especially parties in his honor."

Copeland's most recent honor came last year when the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics inducted him into its Hall of Fame. He was an AD for 27 years, starting at William and Mary in 1979 and conitinuing at Utah, Virginia and Southern Methodist, from where he retired in 2006, shortly before his cancer diagnosis.

Copeland's administrations were marked by athletic success and academic excellence.

"His vision started facilities development like the McCue Center, Klöckner Stadium, and the Aquatic & Fitness Center," Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage said in a statement. "Jim's biggest contributions, however, were in his character, integrity, and his professionalism. He was enthusiastic in his attention to the welfare of all student-athletes, particularly in matters related to (gender) equity."

Coaches who worked for Copeland found him patient, knowledgeable and direct.

""He was extremely supportive and always very fair," said former Virginia basketball coach Jeff Jones, now at American University. "I appreciated his style. You knew what he thought. There wasn't any games."

"Had he not been as supportive as he was, I might not still be here," said Jimmye Laycock, William and Mary's football coach for 30 seasons. "Some ADs come in, have a young coach who's struggling and want to make a change."