Bennett names Charlotte head coach Sanchez as Virginia’s new associate head coach

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Photo: Charlotte Athletics

Ron Sanchez had a difficult decision in front of him: remain head coach at Charlotte, where he had coached the 49ers for five years, or accept an offer from Virginia’s Tony Bennett to come back to Charlottesville.

In the end, Sanchez couldn’t resist. He was with Bennett at Washington State and joined him in the move to UVA, where he helped build the Cavaliers program. Sanchez is a Wahoo again, moving back into his old role as Virginia associate head coach.

“This is a bittersweet day for me and my family as I step down to pursue other opportunities,” Sanchez said in Charlotte, without announcing he was moving to UVA. “It has been a tremendous privilege to lead the 49ers basketball program over the past five years and I want to thank Niner Nation for its support. I will be forever grateful to my staff, players and the University. I can only hope that the impact we made on our student-athletes is as strong as the impact they have made on us.”

Meanwhile, Bennett announced Sanchez’ return to Charlottesville.

“We are thrilled to welcome Ron and his family back to the University of Virginia,” Bennett said. “Ron played an integral part in building this program and was a pillar in the community. He is an outstanding recruiter and coach, and really connects with student-athletes. Ron’s last five years as a head coach enhances what he will bring back to our basketball program.”

Sanchez replaces Kyle Getter, who accepted the associate head coaching position at Notre Dame.

During his time at Charlotte, Sanchez’s 49ers won 16 or more games in three seasons, including a 22-14 record this past season, including the program’s first-ever conference tournament title. The Niners won four games in five days.

“The University of Virginia is truly special to me and my family,” Sanchez said. “It is the only institution I would vacate my head coaching position for. I’m thankful for the opportunity to return to Grounds with a new-found lens and perspective.

“I’m also excited to reconnect with the staff and join their efforts in sustaining the incredible success this program has had over the last decade. I look forward to serving Coach Bennett, the staff, the student-athletes and our community.”

Sanchez was on Bennett’s staff for nine seasons (2009-2018), the last three as associate head coach. Virginia won 212 games during that span, including three ACC regular-season titles and two ACC Tournament crowns, six NCAA Tournament appearances and one NIT.

Sanchez had taken over a Charlotte program that was 6-23 in 2018, and turned it around to where the 49ers were 72-78 during his five seasons at the helm, capped by this past season’s 22 victories, the most since 2001, and the CBI Championship, the program’s first-ever post-season tournament title.

“Ron took over a proud but struggling program and carefully rebuilt it into a 22-game winner,” said Charlotte AD Mike Hill. “He has led with class, dignity and devotion to our young men. His decision to step down from Charlotte was a difficult one for him and everyone associated with our program. We wish him and his family every happiness.”