UVa. coach Tony Bennett: Time to pay the man

tony bennett1Tony Bennett has finished five years at UVa., and has the basketball program back to form, form being where it was 20 years ago, when NCAA Tournament appearances were routine, Sweet 16s and Elite Eights were par for the course, and Final Fours were not uncommon.

Time to pay the man.

Buzz Williams was just hired at Virginia Tech to breathe life into what Williams thinks is a sleeping giant. News flash: Williams doesn’t coach football, which is what they play at Tech. But the school is paying the former Marquette coach $18 million over seven years to resurrect something that wasn’t alive to begin with.

Put that into context with what UVa. is paying Bennett, who has been able to resurrect something that did have a life before Pete Gillen and Dave Leitao ran things into the ground. Bennett is paid $1.8 million a year, plus bonuses for doing things like winning the ACC, which he did twice this year, taking the regular season and tournament crowns, and getting the Cavs to the Sweet 16.

It’s insulting to Bennett and to the Wahoo Nation that Bennett is paid less than a coach like Williams who was free to talk with Tech in the first place because his 2013-2014 Marquette team wasn’t in the postseason. It’s also insulting to all concerned that Bennett is paid less than Mike London, who gets Buzz Williams money to put up three losing seasons in four years.

Bennett is 44 years old, with eight years of experience as the head coach of two power conference programs, three years at Washington State and five at Virginia. He’s been to four NCAA Tournaments and two Sweet 16s. He has Virginia basketball where we all want it: a 30-win season and ACC championships makes this the second coming of the Ralph Sampson era, officially.

Time to pay the man.

– Column by Chris Graham

uva basketball team of destiny

Team of Destiny: Inside UVA Basketball's improbable run

Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.

The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.

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