Tony Bennett declines pay raise in contract extension, pledges $500,000 to career-development program

Bennett’s contract was extended through the 2025-2026 season

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With his recent extension, Tony Bennett is now under contract through 2026. 

Richard Dizon | Cavalier Daily

Virginia Athletics announced Monday morning the extension of men’s basketball Coach Tony Bennett’s contract for another year. 

According to the University, Bennett declined an offered pay raise, instead asking Virginia Athletics Director Carla Williams to use the additional compensation to pay his staff more and improve Virginia athletic programs. Bennett also pledged $500,000 toward a career-development program for past and present members of the basketball team.

“Laurel [Bennett] and I are in a great spot, and in the past I've had increases in my contract,” Bennett said. “We just feel a great peace about where we're at, all that's taken place and how we feel about this athletic department and this community and this school. I love being at U.Va.”

Bennett was the fourth highest-paid coach in college basketball last season, behind Kentucky’s John Calipari, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo. He earned a total of $4.15 million after receiving numerous bonuses due to his on-court success and his longevity as men’s basketball coach. 

“I have more than I need,” Bennett said. “I’m blessed beyond what I deserve.”

Bennett’s new deal means he will be under contract through the 2025-2026 season.

University President Jim Ryan was grateful for the donation from the Bennett family and had high praise for Bennett’s decision.

“Tony’s decision — to turn down a well-deserved raise and instead invest in his players and U.Va. athletics more broadly — tells you everything you need to know about him as a leader and as a human being,” Ryan said.

In addition to Ryan, Williams was also appreciative of Bennett’s dedication to the program and Virginia student-athletes.

“I’m thankful for their consideration of the department, for their gift to the Master Plan and for their commitment to the young men in our basketball program,” Williams said. “We want to lead the way, nationally, in regards to the student-athlete experience. Career development programming for our men’s basketball players will help set that standard and differentiate our program.”

Instead of taking the pay raise, Bennett asked if that money could be used, amongst other things, to upgrade some of his team’s facilities.

“We have one of the most beautiful facilities, I think, in college basketball, but some things have been unchanged for 13 years,” Bennett said.

Bennett was hired as the head coach for Virginia in March 2009. In the 10 years that have followed, Bennett has brought the program unprecedented with a 254-89 record, four ACC regular season titles, two ACC Tournament titles and, most recently, a national championship.

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