Home Tony Bennett: What an odd guy, turning down money

Tony Bennett: What an odd guy, turning down money


tony bennett national champsMaybe UVA Basketball fans can now finally get through a winter without fretting themselves to an early death over what will happen when another school comes after Tony Bennett.

Is it not clear now? Tony isn’t chasing money.

His base salary, from the various sources, is in the $4 million range. With bonuses, he made north of $5 million this past year.

These are both great figures. He’s still $4 million plus behind John Calipari and Coach K.

You can certainly look at him turning down a raise to make more and say, yeah, but he’s making a lot already, because he is.

But there’s also a frame of mind when it comes to these things: that you have a fiduciary responsibility to maximize dollars while you can.

This is how corporations operate, anyway.

And most top-line college coaches treat themselves as corporations. See above: Cal, K.

By all indications, Carla Williams had a Brinks truck on call to back up to Tony’s house and unload stacks of twenties, fifties, hundreds.

His answer: I have more than I need. I’m blessed beyond what I deserve.

No, seriously. That’s what he said.

And of course, Tony being Tony, he didn’t take credit for actually thinking that.

He attributed the sentiment to his wife, Laurel.

The same Laurel, incidentally, who helped talk Tony into taking the UVA job in the first place, 10 years ago, when he got cold feet after interviewing, feeling bad about leaving his guys at Washington State.

That Laurel. The real MVP of UVA Athletics.

“Laurel and I are in a great spot, and in the past I’ve had increases in my contract,” Bennett said. “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.

“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.”

What an oddball, this guy, right?

They’re handing you money. We don’t know how much, but he has seven years left on his current deal. I’m not sure UVA was looking to pay him as well as Cal or K, but for argument’s sake, if they were, we’re talking $20 to $30 million, at the high end.

If it was more like another million a year, it’s still not chump change: $7 million more over the life of that deal, plus that as the starting point assuming he extends beyond that, and for a guy who just turned 50, you wouldn’t be wrong to assume that he goes another 8-10 years past this current deal.

We’re talking a lot of money being left on the table here, is what I’m getting at.

Tony has a lot already. Get that.

A lot of people have a lot already. You don’t often hear these days about people who have a lot already turning people down who want to give them a lot more.

There will be other high-profile jobs opening up.

UCLA, this past spring, had even me doing some hard thinking, in terms of, What Will Tony Do?

Texas could be calling soon, as the Shaka Smart Experiment finally runs its course.

The NBA could be intriguing, as a challenge, to see if what Tony does at the college level could work in the Association, and I think it could.

If what we know about Tony know, though, doesn’t convince us that he’s happy where he is, nothing will.

Keep that in mind when you’re up late at night in January worrying about where the GOAT might be headed next.

Column by Chris Graham



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