Bennett hire official: Coach will earn $1.7 mil. per year

Tony Bennett has been the head coach for the Washington State Cougars for the last three seasons, two of which resulted in NCAA Tournament bids in 2007 and 2008.

He left his heart– or at least his job– in Pullman, Washington.

That's what Washington State head men's basketball coach Tony Bennett has done, as he has accepted the job to coach at the University of Virginia.

In a press release issued on Tuesday, March 31, UVA confirmed the hire and stated the new coach would be paid $1.7 million annually for five years, plus a $500,000 signing bonus, plus another $500,000 bonus if he makes it to the fifth year of his deal. This is nearly double what Bennett was earning at Washington State, and much more than the $1.1 million salary previous head coach Dave Leitao earned this past season.

Says UVA athletic director Craig Littlepage of his new coach in a release, "He is an outstanding basketball coach and is a perfect fit for UVA. He has all of the needed coaching and leadership skills along with an understanding of how to succeed in a highly competitive academic and basketball environment."

On Monday, March 30, Washington State athletic director Jim Sterk confirmed that Bennett was taking the Cavaliers' job in a statement. Sterk thanked Bennett for having "elevated the men's basketball program at Washington State to an unprecedented level of success."

The hire appears to have come together over the course of a weekend. Sterk says that UVA first asked for permission to speak with Bennett last Thursday, March 26. On the afternoon of Monday, March 30, Bennett informed his bosses at WSU of his decision to accept UVA's offer.

UVA made a point to mention in its press release that Bennett's compensation will be funded entirely by a "stand-alone auxiliary that relies on a number of different revenue streams, including ticket and merchandise sales, student fees, ACC television revenues, and philanthropic gifts," and does not come from state funding.

The 39-year-old coach has been the Cougars' top man since accepting the job in 2006. In his three seasons at WSU, Bennett has compiled a record of 68-30, with two NCAA Tournament bids and a run to the Sweet 16 last year.

In 2007, after leading the Cougars to their first Big Dance in 13 years, he won the Associated Press National Coach of the Year award.

When he dons the orange and blue, Bennett will be complete newcomer to the east coast college hoops scene. Tony Bennett is no relation to the legendary crooner of the same name, but he is the son of longtime college coach Dick Bennett. The younger Bennett played for his father at the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay before going on to a three-year stint as a point guard with the NBA's Charlotte Hornets.

Following his brief playing career, Bennett joined his father as an assistant coach at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and then joined his father again when he came out of retirement to coach Washington State in 2003. Since taking over the Cougar program from his father, Bennett has led the team to second and third places finishes in the Pac-10 Conference.

–updated March 31 at 4:12pm, original headline, "Coach watch: UVA to hire Wash. St.'s Bennett"


Jon Oliver (#2 AD) is from Washington and Tony's wiki page has already been changed.
I left my heart in....

On the surface everything indicates that this is a good hire. No, he's not a "name" coach, and no, he doesn't have a strong East Coast connection for recruiting, but he's very highly regarded, and has already turned down the LSU and Indiana jobs.

I've been a serious Littlepage critic, but I think it's quite possible he may have hit one out of the park. Time will tell - and we all know that Leitao received great reviews before he came to the ACC and his suckiness was revealed in all its glory.

Washington missed the big dance this year after two consecutive trips, but they did so with 6 true Freshmen. That ain't bad.

Don't ya just love America? People losing their homes, vehicles and jobs everywhere, and yet one person hired is with an annual salary of $1.7 million, a $500,000 bonus for taking the job, and a $500,000 bonus if he lasts 5 years!

Honestly, I don't believe I could sleep at night after depositing my monthly payroll check of $141,666.66 each month.

If you make 141,000 a month then you are in the 35% bracket.
He pays 609,000 a year of federal tax. That's 50,000 a month in federal tax. Do you pay 50k a year in federal tax?

If you want to talk about CEO making to much money that's fine. Most shareholders are screwed by the BOD who live in a bubble and pay way too much. But coaches live in a much different world, sports is the entertainment business. It doesn't affect you for 10 seconds how much he makes. You want to pick on the CEO of GM, I got your back. But ballplayers, movie stars, and rockstars only make big money if people willing give up their money. It's honest and direct. The new coach will make back his salary for the university if he is successful. Why shouldn't he get paid for the money he makes?

Do you think John Grisham is paid too much or should his publisher get the money instead?

Sorry the top tax rate for 2010 is now 39.6% so he'll pay over 55k a month in federal income tax

I think SOTLR, with whom I usually disagree, is just pointing out that rich folks look for accountants who can help them shelter much/most of their income so that it doesn't get taxed. You get a certain salary, but what you get *taxed for* can be creatively massaged, I believe.

If the government is going to collect $50K per month from Bennett, they should provide him some good assistants as well as females, bathed and brought to him.

Diagoliv, what 'market' sets the price of a college coach exactly? Looks more like board-room CEO style decision making like SOLR points out. If this salary were a State appropriation, there'd be an uproar. And to say the success of the program comes from the coach ignores all the other contributing (and expensive) factors, such as the over-done arena. What cannot be denied is that small college programs can and do attract talented coaches paid in the 100s of thousands (not bad for washed up NBA players). UVa has tried to buy success and has failed in both football and basketball. Your argument might have fewer leaks if the same strategy had been necessary to build the winning tennis, soccer, lacrosse and baseball programs, to name a few.

One doesn't have to want a University of Richmond sized program to object to the salary paid to Bennett. One can simply be shocked that a state supported institution sets such a horrible example.

It would be fun to require all coaches at public universities to publicly disclose their tax returns. My guess is that even with well planned tax avoidance strategies, Bennett will be paying some taxes.

Two things gleaned from the morning press
"Though Bennett refused comment, saying in a text he was respecting UVA’s wishes, sources close to the situation told The Spokesman-Review that recent WSU budget concerns may have played a part in his decision.

The school was contemplating dropping charter flights for the basketball team next season ââ?¬â?? an addition to the program when Bennett’s contract was reworked after last year, along with improvements to Beasley Coliseum ââ?¬â?? and had eliminated a planned trip to the Final Four for Bennett and his staff.

Bennett offered late in the season to rework his contract, which called for a salary of more that $1 million this season, including bonuses and outside compensation. He talked with Sterk and others about donating $100,000 back to the program to ensure the continuation of the charters and other ancillary items."

From the Washington Post

"What is really neat about Tony is that he gets it done in a non-abrasive way. I always prided myself on being able to get a lot out of players, but I think I was more abrasive than Tony. I know his dad is more abrasive than he is. That is a good characteristic to have. Being as young as he is, he still has great memories of being a player, what players need to perform at a high level, with today’s players as opposed to the old-school guys. Tony is really good at connecting with kids, making them feel at home, yet towing the line with them as well. I was so impressed the times I was up there at Washington State watching him run his team. He just has a great demeanor."

A top tier coach in the making. The ACC is in for a wakeup call with this guy at the helm.

let's hope so Crass, let's hope so.

Correction - Washington had 7 true Freshmen and 2 redshirt Freshmen this year. That's 9 first year players, and they got into the NIT.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Too bad he can't play point guard for us. He was pretty good.

SOLR He is paid by the free market not your tax dollars- why do you care? He will pay more in taxes in a month then you will probably pay for couple of years.

He will perform a job that you or I couldn't dream of doing at the highest level against the finest college coaches in the nation in the one of the best arena in the country. If he is successful he will generate 10's of millions by increased attendance, jersey sales, camps and other things. If not him who should get the fruits of his labors (Don't say the players because that is for another day)

Are you a socialist or just jealous?

diagoliv, I don't discriminate. I dislike ridiculous salaries in the private sector just as mush as I dislike all the public employees making outrageous salaries while feeding at the public trough. :)

And, he must not have a very good accountant if he's going to pay more taxes in a month than I pay in 2 years. He needs to take some of that $141,000 a month and hire a competent accountant.

You don't have to be a socialist to see this country is screwed up. The former CEO of General Motors is walking away with $23 million dollars (or probably more if the truth was known) while the taxpayers have to foot the bill to clean up the mess he left behind. And yet 40 more people were just got laid off at Klockner Pentaplast in Louisa County today. And 170 were laid off at MeadWestvaco this month, also in Louisa County.

Like I originally said, if he is paying 35% or 39.6% in taxes, he needs a new and competent accountant.

Accountants aren't magicians - you have to pay the rate. He will still pay more in a month (even with a good accountant) then most people probably pay in a couple of years in Fed tax.

Correct, Cecil.

Most rich folks are likely paying about 10% to 15% at most. And only that much because they can't wiggle out of it no matter how many accountants they have on staff.

SOTLR you really have no idea what you are talking about. Salary is different the capital gains (which is what the super rich pay most of their tax bill on, LTCG rate is currently 15%) You can put some into a annuity and defered comp plans but that will just be taxed when it's withdrawn. IF you think that the University of Virginia won't take out his full federal share from his actual salary then there is nothing more to say. Will some go into retirement, you bet, but he will pay a very hefty tax bill.

BTW you never answered the question, does Grisham make too much? If so who should get his extra profit.