Notices sorted by graduation date.

April 10, 1928–Nov. 10, 2019

Hall of Fame lacrosse coach led Cavaliers to five ACC titles

James F. “Ace” Adams IV, 15th head coach in UVA men’s lacrosse history and member of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, died Nov. 10. He was 91.

James F. Adams IV Courtesy of UVA Athletics

“The lacrosse world lost an icon,” former Virginia men’s lacrosse head coach Dom Starsia told U.S. Lacrosse Magazine. “In my lifetime in the game, I am not sure that anyone was more respected. He was a great player, a Hall of Fame coach, a true gentleman.”

Named head coach in 1978, Adams led the Cavaliers to a then-record 137 ACC victories and five conference titles. During his 15 seasons at UVA, his players earned 58 All-ACC honors and 70 All-America rankings.

Before arriving at UVA, Adams held multiple coaching positions, including at his Maryland prep school, St. Paul’s School (1951-53), West Point (1958-69) and the University of Pennsylvania (1970-77). He earned National Lacrosse Hall of Fame honors in 1975. 

Adams entered St. Paul’s School as a boarding student in second grade and graduated in 1946 after earning letters in football, basketball and lacrosse. At Johns Hopkins University, Adams continued to play all three sports, with the lacrosse team winning four national championships during his tenure and Adams earning three-time All-America status as a midfielder. He never lost a game during his high school or collegiate lacrosse career.

After graduating in 1950, Adams began teaching and coaching at St. Paul’s. Following a brief period in insurance sales—while playing for and then coaching the Mount Washington Lacrosse Club—he returned to coaching full time at West Point, where he led Army to four national titles.

Upon his 1992 retirement from UVA, Adams held the record of most wins (284) of any active Division I lacrosse coach.

According to current head coach Lars Tiffany, Adams “re-established Virginia lacrosse as a dominant force in college lacrosse.”

Former four-year player John Begier (Col ’87) says Adams instilled in team members that they must conduct themselves with character, class and sportsmanship, both on and off the field. “Even in the toughest of moments after a difficult loss,” Begier says, “he was a classy guy.”

Adams is survived by his wife, Betty Jane Sparks Adams; five daughters, Linda, Sally, Helen Elizabeth “Beth” McGrath (Col ’79), Dr. Mary Jo Hill (Col ’84 L/M) and Margaret Ann “Meg” Torres (Educ ’85); 18 grandchildren, including Allison McGrath (Col ’09); and 11 great-grandchildren.

—Diane J. McDougall