Last week, it was discovered by the Richmond Times-Dispatch and confirmed by the Daily Progress that Virginia men's basketball head coach Tony Bennett had received a five-year contract extension. Bennett's contract was originally set to expire following the 2013-2014 season, but has now been amended to go through the 2018-2019 season.
When Bennett was hired in 2009, he was paid a $500,000 signing bonus. Under the terms of the amendment, if Bennett is still Virginia's head coach following the 2013-2014 season, he'll receive another $500,000 bonus. During each of his extension years, Bennett will earn a base salary of $1.7 million per year -- exactly the same amount as what he's making now.
Here's an interesting tidbit of the contract, according to the Daily Progress:
Per terms of the amendment, Bennett must pay Virginia $1 million in "liquidated damages" if he leaves for any reason within the next two seasons - unless he has a medical disability. That amount decreases 15 percent annually after the 2014 season.
That's actually somewhat comforting, that Bennett won't be able to take another job for free. That said, I'm not sure what the penalty was under his previous contract.
As Whitey Reid of the DP pointed out, why doesn't the Virginia Athletics department make a bigger deal of this? Coach is young, successful, and probably "on the radar" of a number of schools out there. You'd think the school would want it known -- by both other schools and by recruits -- that Bennett is committed to Virginia and vice versa. Perhaps the answer is that the school didn't want to advertise that Bennett didn't receive any raise in base salary (as I have not seen a copy of the amendment itself, I'm uncertain as to whether there's been any increase in incentives).
Speaking of the salary -- what do you think of the extension without any pay raise? When Bennett arrived three years ago, Virginia had just finished a lousy 10-18 season, with just four conference wins. Three years later, the Hoos finished with a 22-10 season, nine conference wins and a berth to the NCAA Tournament as a 10-seed. By all accounts, there's been nothing but success and progress.
I actually like Virginia's move here of extending the contract but not giving the raise. I'm completely buying into Bennett Ball -- I think it works, I think the players believe in Bennett, and I actually start hyperventilating whenever any team (whether or not UVA is playing) starts pushing the pace. Carolina basketball straight up sends me to the hospital. But the guy's been here for just three years, and if I learned anything from Pete Gillen's tenure, it's that timeouts are unlimited (wait...what?) and it can be costly to extend a contract with a higher price tag, both financially and in terms of keeping a coach around a little longer than you really should.
The downside of giving a raise is that if Bennett Ball turns south and the school needs to push him out (*tear), you'd rather "only" pay $1.7 million a year (note that the buy-out does decrease as the years progress) than, say, $2.1 million a year. Simple math, right?
The upside, though, of not giving a raise, is that if in two or three years it's becoming more clear that Bennett is the franchise coach, you can reward behavior by giving a raise at that point. Simply put, it's a lot easier to reward good behavior and give a raise than it is to punish bad behavior and...what, cut back on the salary? I don't think that'll happen.
But do you agree? Is it a slap in the face to see such great recruiting and quick success and not offer a raise? Should he not have even received a contract extension yet to begin with? What are your thoughts on this?