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Tony Bennett Inks Million Dollar Deal

by tlewis

Posted on October 19, 2009 at 1:01 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 19 at 1:01 PM

Cougar basketball fans can breathe another sigh of relief. Tony Bennett signed an "amended contract" recently that pays him $1 million a year and keeps him in Pullman until 2015 (if his contract is not bought out by another university).

The details of his contract were released yesterday. Here's a copy of a story from the Associated Press:

PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) - Washington State basketball coach Tony Bennett received a $200,000 pay raise that will guarantee him $1 million a year.

His amended contract was extended through 2015, athletic spokesman Bill Stevens said Thursday.

Bennett was courted by several powerhouse programs after winning 26 games in each of his two seasons at the helm, tying the school record. He became the first coach in team history to go to consecutive NCAA basketball tournaments. Also, attendance at Friel Court has more than doubled.

Despite the pay, Bennett may remain a relative bargain as he has reinvigorated a losing program. Some 9,200 fans per game packed Friel Court this season, fourth-highest in the Pac 10. The Cougars also enjoyed plenty of television exposure, and advanced for the first time to the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament before losing to North Carolina.

The 38-year-old Bennett was an assistant to his father, Dick, for three years at WSU before taking over.

Under the new deal, Washington State raised Bennett's collateral compensation from $400,000 to $600,000. That, combined with a base salary of $200,000 and another $200,000 annually for each year he stays, brought him to $1 million pay for next season, the school said.

Most coaches in the Pac-10 are making more than $1 million, but operate in much larger markets than Pullman.

Tony Bennett made $350,000 in his first season as coach. After he led WSU to a 26-8 mark, he was given a three-year extension to seven years and a raise to $800,000 annually.

Last season, WSU went 26-9. Bennett's 52 victories tied him for fourth among Cougars coaches after two years.

Sorry to add negativity to a positive situation, but talk of him taking another job will always exist. As I mentioned above, other schools can always buy out his contract. It will cost $500,000 (pretty small figure for a major university) and drops to $250,000 if he stays past May 1, 2012, according to the Seattle Times.

It's always been thought that Tony's dream job would be at the University of Wisconsin (where Bennett coached under his dad and current coach Bo Ryan). It's probably more appealing now that the Badgers have hired Bennett's sister (yesterday), Kathy, as an assistant women's basketball coach. Of course, for anything to happen Ryan needs to start losing (Wisconsin was 29-4 last we're safe for now).

P.S. Cougar defensive lineman Ropati Pitoitua signed a free agent contract with the New York Jets today.