In 2019 NCAA tournament, Tony Bennett, the head coach of the basketball team of University of Virginia, led the team on the road of redemption creating history. Virginia Cavaliers under his guidance qualified in the Final Four of the tournament for the first time in 35 years and later went on to win their first ever NCAA Champions title.
On Monday, Virginia Athletics revealed the news of prolonging Bennett’s contract as Basketball coach for one more year. However, when President Jim Ryan and Athletic Director Carla Williams offered him a “substantial rise” along with the extension of the contract, Bennett said no to the pay raise.
Furthermore, Tony Bennett asked Williams to use the money for improving the wages of his staff and improving the quality of other athletic programs. He also promised to donate a large sum of $500,000 towards career-development program launched for current and former men’s basketball players of the University of Virginia.
As per the article published on the college website, he said, “Laurel [Bennett] and I are in a great spot, and in the past I’ve had increases in my contract. 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.”
Tony Bennett was hired 10 years ago as head coach at the University of Virginia. Earlier, he used to work at the Washington State University, where he made a 69-33 record in three seasons. During his tenure at the Washington State University, he even made two trips to the NCAA Tournament and one to the National Invitational Tournament.
On the other hand, Bennett in his tenure from 2009 at the UVA achieved a 254-89 record along with winning four ACC regular season titles, two ACC Tournament titles and, most recently, a national championship.
In response to Bennett’s stance on the pay raise and donation to career-development program, Director Carla Williams said, “This just doesn’t happen in our industry”.
Ryan also came forward to praise him as he said, “Tony’s decision – to turn down a well-deserved raise and instead invest in his players and UVA athletics more broadly – tells you everything you need to know about him as a leader and as a human being.”
The decision of Tony Bennett to decline the pay raise might not surprise many as he earns a base salary of $4 million alone from various sources. If counting the bonuses, last year alone he made more than $5 million.
However, his decision to turn down the offer to earn more is exactly the opposite of how corporate world works. Also, his decision to let go of the pay raise and instead boost the wages of his staff and improve the conditions of sports program reveal a lot about him as leader, corroborating the statement made by UVA President Jim Ryan.