Bennett will earn big bonuses if Cavaliers do well in Big Dance - Cavalier Insider: Cavalier Insider

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Bennett will earn big bonuses if Cavaliers do well in Big Dance

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Posted: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 12:00 pm | Updated: 8:32 pm, Tue Mar 18, 2014.

With the kind of season Virginia is having, it was really only a matter of time before the subject of coach Tony Bennett’s contract came up.
Typically, coaches who have enjoyed the kind of success that Bennett has are rewarded with extensions, raises, or both.
In 2011, Virginia Athletic Director Craig Littlepage tacked some years and dollars onto the contract of football coach Mike London before the team’s appearance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
But two days before UVa begins play in the NCAA Tournament, it doesn’t appear Littlepage will be making any announcements pertaining to Bennett’s contract until after the season.
“There’s a point in time that we would talk and everything else about matters like that,” Littlepage told The Daily Progress, “but right now our focus - as a department team and a basketball program - is on playing these games and not let ourselves get off course by things that right now aren’t going to help us win ballgames. Right now, we’re only focused on what’s going to help us win.”
That’s not to say Littlepage doesn’t think Bennett, whom he hired in 2009 to replace Dave Leitao, isn't doing a fantastic job.
“I think it’s one of the best coaching jobs that any head coach or any coaching staff has done [all] season long,” Littlepage said. “Certainly, there have been some other great teams...but I think the job that Tony and his staff have done has been as good as any in the country.
“To be able to make the necessary changes during the season, when things were still very much up in the air about what kind of team and what kind of year we would have, this coaching staff did the necessary things and the players did everything they could to bond and make the commitments and sacrifices they needed to. I give Tony so much credit for being able to get that done.”
Bennett’s contract, which was last reworked in 2012, runs through 2019. He makes $1.7 million a season, which ranks no better than sixth in the ACC, according to a USA Today report.
Bennett, though, is set to receive a $500,000 “longevity” bonus, which his contract stipulates he is to get after five years of service.
In addition, Bennett has several performance-related bonuses that could net him over $1 million more.
Bennett has already earned an extra $100,000 for leading Virginia to its first ACC Tournament championship since 1976.
Bennett will make an additional $100,000 if UVa makes it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament; $250,000 each for appearances in the Elite Eight and Final Four; and $400,000 if Virginia were to win the national championship.
Bennett, whose No. 1-seeded team opens play against Coastal Carolina in Raleigh on Friday, can also make $100,000 if he is named National Coach of the Year, something he accomplished when he was at Washington State.
Littlepage said Bennett’s efforts this season have had an obvious effect on the school’s fan base.
“I don’t think we could have expected any better in terms of the fan turnout [in Greensboro],” he said. “Fans deserve a lot of credit. They’ve gotten behind the team.
“When they [announced the starting] lineups and everything, it was very clear that we had a very large and very loud following there. They were energized.”
There’s no doubt that schools looking for new head coaches in the offseason will be coming after Bennett, regardless of how Virginia fares the rest of the way. Two springs ago, Louisiana State put out feelers to Bennett, whose wife, Laurel, grew up in Baton Rouge and attended LSU.
Right now, Bennett’s contract includes a $1 million dollar buyout, which gets reduced by 15 percent for each full season that he completes beginning after this season.
In any potential new deal, Bennett would likely seek raises for assistants Ritchie McKay, Jason Williford and Ron Sanchez, who figure to be hot candidates to land head-coaching gigs of their own.
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