Virginia coach Tony Bennett turns down raise, says he's 'blessed beyond what I deserve'

After leading the Virginia Cavaliers to the first national championship in program history, it was only natural for the school to offer coach Tony Bennett a pay raise. Athletics director Carla Williams and Bennett discussed revisions to his contract that would have included a significant bump in salary.

Bennett talked it over with his wife, Laurel, and decided to decline the raise.

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“I have more than I need,” he said in a statement released by the university. “I’m blessed beyond what I deserve.”

Instead of taking the money, Bennett asked Williams to focus on increasing the salaries of his staff and other improvements that would benefit the program. He did, however, extend his contract an additional year and now has seven years remaining on the deal.

The Bennetts also pledged $500,000 toward a career-development program for current and former Virginia men’s basketball players.

“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 (Jim) 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.”

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In his 10 seasons at Virginia, Bennett has led the program to four ACC regular-season championships, two ACC Tournament titles, six consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, and the NCAA championship. He holds an overall record of 254-89 as the Cavaliers’ head coach.

“Tony’s decision — to turn down a well-deserved raise and instead invest in his players and UVA athletics more broadly — tells you everything you need to know about him as a leader and as a human being,” President Ryan said. “Tony is one of the most selfless people I’ve ever met, and this is just the latest example.”

Bennett joined the Sports Spectrum Podcast in October 2018 and talked about his faith in God and relying on Christ in the aftermath of Virginia’s historic loss to UMBC in the 2018 NCAA Tournament.

“The Lord is more than ample. He’s enough. In Him there is all sufficiency. In Him there is great joy and great rest, regardless of what the world is screaming at you through great success or through failure,” he said on the podcast.

Virginia kicks off the 2019-2020 season Nov. 6 at Syracuse.

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