Tony Bennett, the former head basketball coach at Washington State, is the new head coach at the University of Virginia. Bennett was introduced to about three dozen media members and about 150 others, including donors and University officials, Wednesday at the John Paul Jones Arena.
Bennett recently completed his third year in Pullman, where he guided the Cougars to a 69-33 record, two NCAA tournament appearances and was named National Coach of the Year in 2007.
“Tony Bennett comes to the University of Virginia with a plan to build our program,” said Virginia athletics director Craig Littlepage in his opening remarks. “He is an outstanding basketball coach and a perfect fit for the University.”
Bennett said that he is honored at being named UVa.’s head coach and said the University represents all the things that are important to him and his family. “I come from a place in Washington State University that is all about family, that was my initial feeling about this community and UVa.,” noted Bennett.
University President John Casteen said that Bennett had a knowledge of what it takes to be an exceptional student-athlete. “Tony has demonstrated the ability top recruit successful student-athletes, he has an excellent track record at Washington Stae. I think he is right choice,” noted Casteen. At WSU Bennett not only had four players make the all Pac 10 basketball team, he had four players qualify for Pac 10 academic honors.
In deciding on coming to the the University of Virginia, Bennett said academics, facilities and the prestige of playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference were all important factors. “I think the fact that I was welcomed so warmly welcomed by Craig Littlepage and Jon Oliver (executive director of athletics) and the feeling I had about Charlottesville really helped me decide this was the move for me at this time,” noted Bennett.
The 2006-2007 season was an especially solid season for both Bennett and his Cougar team. WSU won 26 games and advanced to the NCAA tourney for the first time in 13 years. He was named National Coach of the Year by both the Associated Press and Sporting News Magazine.
– Story by Scott German