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Mailbag: Didn’t Tony Bennett give up money to take care of his assistants?

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Photo: Mike Ingalls/AFP

I’m in agreement that many coaches in college athletics are paid more than they should be, especially when compared to low-paid public-school teachers, caregivers, etc. But using ‘”nothing against” still qualifies as ridiculing any possible overpay and low work of a staff member. 

If you, I or others are OK with that ridicule, let’s remember a few things – a few years ago CTB turned down a higher pay raise so his assistants could have higher pay of their own. Maybe those assistant spots would otherwise be paid a lot less?  Also, even the fourth and fifth full-time assistants are part of recruiting, building relationships through program stability, etc. 

Still, it wouldn’t bother me if the entire field of college athletics cut Div 1 salaries by a large percentage and spent it on low-income scholarships, unpaid hospital bills or the like. At least Coach Bennett seems to use his funds for others and community rather than planes, trains and automobiles.

Rick Moore

I’m going to take Rick’s points, all strong ones, out of order, from the way he laid things out.

First, one thing that should be obvious from the salaries that I reported for the staff members earlier this week is, the narrative that we’d been sold that Tony Bennett “gave up money” to make sure his assistants got paid more is bunk.

It had been widely assumed (by the self-styled experts on social media and the message boards) that UVA was paying Jason Williford and Ron Sanchez close to a million dollars per year, when the truth is, they’re getting less than half that.

Tony does deserve credit for not holding UVA up for tons more money for himself, but UVA didn’t give the money that it would pay him to his guys.

That money, as I’ve written in this space in recent weeks, is actually going to balance the books for non-revenue sports.

Next, I’ll go back to Rick’s first point: my contention isn’t that college football and basketball coaches are overpaid relative to teachers, caregivers, etc., though that is also true – my point is, college coaches are overpaid relative to the money generated by their activities.

Public-school teachers don’t work in a money-making enterprise, so, they’re bound to be screwed when it comes to contract time.

Caregivers tend to work for large multibillion-dollar outfits that became large multibillion-dollar outfits largely by squeezing the people on the front lines who do the caregiving.

College football and basketball coaches are dramatically overpaid in terms of the money that schools bring in from TV, ticket sales and donors to the sports that they work in.

It makes no sense to pay college head coaches 10 times or greater what a CEO of a similarly-sized business is paid.

The only reason that it’s possible for colleges to pay football and basketball coaches what they do is that the student-athletes in those sports have been working for the value of the scholarships that they’re given, which is to say, for pennies on the dollar in value for what they provide.

To Rick’s last point: more money for low-income scholarships (check!) and unpaid hospital bills (check!).

I don’t think we need to get that money from the athletics budget, though.

Seriously, UVA has more money than god.

I’m looking at that $13.6 billion endowment and thinking to myself, And you’re making my best friend since kindergarten, Brian, fork over the bulk of the monthly pittance that he gets from disability while he’s waiting for a heart transplant, why, again?

UVA, as an institution, seems to have no shame.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham, the king of "fringe media," is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].