University of Virginia’s head basketball coach is proving to be a champion both on and off the court.
Coach Tony Bennett, who led the Cavaliers to their first national championship in April, was offered a raise and declined to accept it.
Instead, he asked for his staff and the players to reap the benefits, reports the Associated Press.
“I have more than enough,” Bennett said in a statement released by the University on Monday (Sept. 16).
The coach and his wife, Laurel, also donated $500,000 toward a career-development program for current and former players, the AP reports.
“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,” Bennett added.
Although it’s unclear how much the pay increase was for, the University’s athletic director, Carla Williams, said a coach turning down a raise “just does not happen in our industry.”
Bennett did agree to sign a one-year contract extension, which means he’ll be a Cavalier for at least the next seven years.
“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,” the school’s president, Jim Ryan, said in the statement.
Aside from their recent national championship victory, Bennett’s 10-year run with the team has included a 254-89 record, seven NCAA Tournament appearances, and one trip to the NIT, the AP reports.
Coach Bennett and his hard-working team celebrated over the weekend when they finally received their championship rings.
A photo on the team’s Instagram account shows a smiling Coach Bennett and two players checking out their new jewelry with the caption, “Got some new bling tonight!”
“Tony is one of the most selfless people I’ve ever met,” Ryan added in the statement, “and this is just the latest example.”
(Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)