Home UVA’s Carla Williams, Tony Bennett decline to comment on Bennett’s contract status

UVA’s Carla Williams, Tony Bennett decline to comment on Bennett’s contract status

uva tony bennett staff
Photo: Mike Ingalls/AFP

This isn’t speculation: I reached out last night to UVA Athletics to try to get comment from Carla Williams and Tony Bennett on Bennett’s expiring contract. Both declined the opportunity.

“Carla does not discuss contract details with the media,” Jim Daves, the assistant athletics director for athletic communications at UVA Athletics, wrote me in an email Thursday morning.

“You are correct about Tony as well. He respectfully declines the request,” Erich Bacher, the assistant AD for public relations at UVA Athletics, wrote in a follow-up specific to my request to speak with Bennett.

The requests to speak with Williams, the athletics director at UVA, and Bennett, who has been the head coach at UVA Basketball since 2009, were offered as an opportunity to push back against my recent reporting on Bennett’s contract status.

In a May 14 AFP story, based on a public-records request from the University of Virginia, I reported that Bennett is under contract to coach at UVA for two more seasons, and UVA Athletics hasn’t put a contract extension on the table that would keep him around beyond that.

I followed up that reporting with another public-records request to the University to get copies of the contracts of Bennett’s top assistants, Ron Sanchez and Jason Williford.

The May 21 AFP report on that part of the story revealed that Williford, like Bennett, is under contract with UVA through the end of the 2025-2026 season, and that Sanchez is under contract for an additional year, through the end of the 2026-2027 season, one year beyond Bennett, the head coach.

It also came out in the May 21 report that UVA wouldn’t owe Williford the money left on his deal if Bennett were to step down as head coach before their deals expire in 2026, a detail that is not in Sanchez’s contract.

I wrote in the May 21 AFP story that, based on the review of Bennett’s contract, and the contracts of his top assistants, it seems to be clear that Bennett is intent on stepping down with the plan being for Sanchez to be his successor, and the only question is, will this take place after the upcoming 2024-2025 season, or at the end of Bennett’s deal, following the 2025-2026 season?

I reached out to the media-relations folks to get in touch with Williams and Bennett hoping, honestly, as a UVA alum and lifelong UVA Athletics fan, that they would push back against my reporting on this topic.

I don’t know how you can interpret their silence as being anything other than deafening.

Note to readers here: I’ve still got one other iron in the fire, in the form of a public-records request for copies of the contracts of Bennett assistants Orlando Vandross, Johnny Carpenter and Isaiah Wilkins, as well as Brad Soderberg, the director of scouting, Larry Mangino, the director of player development, and Ronnie Wideman, the associate AD for basketball administration/operations.

I’ll report on what I find there once I get the contracts in hand.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham 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].