Tony Bennett is one of the few people in sports to be offered a raise and turn it down.
Instead of adding dollars to his current contract, the Virginia men's basketball head coach would rather that money be used for other purposes. He wants additional funding, that would be used for a raise, to be given to his assistants or to help other aspects of the program.
“I have more than I need,” Bennett said in a release. “I’m blessed beyond what I deserve.”
This past season Bennett lead the Cavaliers to their first NCAA men's basketball national championship. Rewriting UVA's history books, of course, warrants Bennett to be rewarded with a new deal and with it an increase in pay. But in a meeting with athletic director Carla Williams and university president Jim Ryan, where a "substantial raise" was discussed, he turned it down.
“This just does not happen in our industry,” Williams said in the release.
He did, however, add another year to his contract. It keeps Bennett in Charlottesville for seven more seasons.
Additional salary money for his assistants is definitely a huge boost to the program is trying to build. Every year several of the top 'Power Five' assistant coaches are the sought out targets of new head coaching candidates and lower programs. For example, Dennis Gates moved as an assistant at Florida State to the head coaching spot at Cleveland State this offseason. Year-in and year-out, a coach has to expect to deal with staff turnover.
In his 10-year tenure with the Cavaliers, Bennett has turned Virginia into national contenders. Since 2014, the Cavaliers have earned a No. 1 seed into the NCAA Tournament four times, including the past two years. They've also won two ACC tournament championships and three regular-season titles in that span.
Currently, all three of his assistants from last year's championship team are staffed for the upcoming season. His top assistant, Jason Williford, has been with Bennett ever since he took over the program.
This practice of requesting money being diverted to assistants is not new. Jim Larranaga left George Mason for Miami because of his request to pay assistants more money was declined.
Bennett is even showing further support for the program. He has donated $500,000 toward a career-development program in place for current and former players of the program.
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