Back in March of 2018, Tony Bennett's Virginia team made history, becoming the first team in NCAA tournament history to start off as a 1-seed and get bounced by a 16-seed in UMBC. Not the good kind of history.
Fast forward a year, and Bennett and his staff were able to use that experience to motivate and propel them to new heights, capturing the 2019 National Title with a tournament run and win over Texas Tech in the national title game.
So when UVA approached Bennett, who is the fourth highest paid coach in college basketball according to the USA Today database at just over $4 million annually, with an offer for a raise, he went back and talked to his wife. They decided to politely decline.
Why would someone turn down that type of financial reward? Bennet's answer is a testament to his class and integrity.
“I have more than I need. I’m blessed beyond what I deserve," Bennett shared with UVA Today.
Not only did Bennett turn down the raise, he asked for that money to be reallocated to his assistants and for overall improvements to the Cavaliers basketball program. Not only that, but the Bennett's have also pledged to donate half-a-million dollars toward a career development program launching for current and former UVA basketball players.
Here's another excerpt from UVA Today from Bennet on the decision to forgo the raise.
“President Ryan and Carla were very gracious in what they offered to me as a potential contract, but I have a very good contract. I have more than enough, and if there are ways that this can help out the athletic department, the other programs and coaches, by not tying up so much [in men’s basketball], that’s my desire.”
Bennet's contract was extended another year and he enters this season with seven years remaining on his deal.
In an era where coaches are paid more than ever, while many are lobbying to play players, this decision by Bennett and his family is a really refreshing gesture.
Head here to read more from UVA Today.