Tony Bennett signs seven-year contract extension to coach Virginia men’s basketball

After leading Virginia to the Sweet 16 and earning ACC coach of the year honors this past season, men’s basketball Coach Tony Bennett has been rewarded with a new contract.

The school announced Tuesday that Bennett signed a seven-year contract extension that will run through the 2020-21 season and increase his annual salary from $1.7 million to $1.924 million.

A person with direct knowledge of the negotiations said Bennett asked for less money than he could have demanded based on the college basketball coaching market in order to obtain raises for his staff and upgrade the program’s budget.

Bennett, 45, has a 106-60 record in five seasons in Charlottesville, improving the Cavaliers’ record every year. It culminated this past March when Virginia won the ACC regular season and tournament titles in the same season for the first time in school history and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

“I’m thankful for receiving this new contract,” Bennett said in a statement. “I love coaching at the University of Virginia and living in Charlottesville where the community has been wonderful to my family. I feel we are building something special here and this commitment by the University is another great step towards ensuring we continue to compete at a high level.”

Bennett’s new contract, which replaces a five-year extension he signed following the 2011-12 season, calls for him to earn a $1 million longevity bonus if he remains in Charlottesville after year five of this new contract. He would make an additional $400,000 if he is still at Virginia following the completion of the deal.

The contract also includes a $1.4 million buyout provision that will decrease by $200,000 each season if Bennett were to leave before the end of the seven-year term. Two athletic department officials familiar with the situation confirmed Bennett rebuffed several NBA teams with head coaching openings that contacted him in recent months to gauge his interest in coaching at the professional ranks.

“We are pleased with Coach Bennett’s commitment to the University of Virginia,” Athletic Director Craig Littlepage said in a statement. “Tony believes in the goals of the athletics department and the mission of the University. The vision he had for our program when he accepted the head coaching position is developing according to his plan. It will be exciting to watch the development of our players and the program in the coming years.”

Bennett’s lucrative postseason incentives remain mostly unchanged. He is due $50,000 if he wins ACC coach of the year and would earn another $50,000 if the Cavaliers qualify for the NCAA tournament or finish in the top 15 of the national polls. A top 10 finish would increase that figure to $75,000 and a top 20 finish would drop the bonus to $25,000.

Earning national coach of the year honors, winning the ACC tournament as and advancing to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament would each net him a $100,000 bonus. Bennett would then collect $250,000 for advancing to the Elite Eight and Final Four and $400,000 should Virginia win a national title.

This past season, Bennett earned approximately $325,000 in incentives in addition to his $1.7 million base salary.

“The outstanding performance of the basketball program this past season is a direct result of a vision to position the program for success for the long term,” Littlepage said.

Mark Giannotto covers Virginia and Virginia Tech for The Washington Post.
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