In 2019, University of Virginia men's basketball coach Tony Bennett led the Cavaliers to their first appearance in the Final Four in 35 years and on to win their first NCAA Championship title in program history.
But when UVA President Jim Ryan and Athletic Director Carla Williams tried to offer Bennett a raise after the win, he rejected it.
"President Ryan and Carla were very gracious in what they offered to me as a potential contract, but I have a very good contract," said Bennett, in an article published on UVA's website on Sept. 15. "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."
"I have more than I need," he said. "I'm blessed beyond what I deserve."
The coach also donated $500,000 toward a career-training initiative for current and former UVA men's basketball players. Rejecting additional compensation "just does not happen in our industry," said Williams.
Bennett said he consulted with his wife, Laurel, before making the decision. "She's always said, 'Is there something we can do that can make a difference?' That's been on her heart and mind, and we've talked about it a lot," he said.
USA Today estimates that Bennett made $4.15 million last season.
Virginia's state salary database of public employees indicates that Bennett's base salary is $525,000. The Daily Progress reports he also received $1.175 million in performance incentives for the team's 2018-2019 season, which they finished with a 35 - 3 record, and for winning the national championship.
According to documents obtained by The Daily Progress through a Freedom of Information Act request, an amendment to Bennett's contract that went into effect in July of 2017 includes $2.5 million in annual "supplemental compensation," which typically includes compensation for a university's use of a coach's likeness or image.
His contract also reportedly includes longevity bonuses of $1 million for staying with the team. He received such a bonus on March 15th, 2019 and is set to receive the same amount in 2021 and 2023 if he is still the team's coach.
With his base salary ($525,000), his performance incentives ($1.175 million), his supplemental compensation ($2.5 million) and his longevity bonus ($1 million), Bennett's total compensation could be as much as $5.2 million per season.
This puts Bennett among some of the highest-paid college coaches in the country. The top 10 highest-paid NCAA basketball coaches all make over $3 million. The highest-paid coach, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, makes roughly $9 million per year.
"Laurel and I are in a great spot, and in the past I've had increases in my contract," said Bennett. "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 UVA."
As to the team's recent success, "I know I'm a little biased, but I think it's one of the greatest sports stories ever told," said Bennett.
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