Tony Bennett shows that rare quality in College Coaching: March 28, 2007Posted by Administrator in Sports.
SPOKANE, Wash. — It turns out, Tony Bennett’s heart is at Washington State University.
The first-year basketball coach, who led the Cougars to their finest season is six decades, said Wednesday he had agreed in principle to remain for seven years at the Pullman school.
There had been speculation that Bennett, who has already won several coach of the year awards, might jump to a more prestigious program after leading the Cougars to a 26-8 record and the second round of the NCAA Tournament, where they lost 78-74 in double overtime to Vanderbilt.
Bennett, 37, and athletics director Jim Sterk have been discussing a contract extension for the past week. Bennett, who made about $350,000 plus incentives this season as the lowest-paid coach in the Pacific-10, will see a significant raise, Sterk said.
“It will be more competitive,” Sterk said. “But it also takes into account it is not as expensive to live in Pullman as LA.”
. . .it was feared that WSU could not match the money offered by some basketball powerhouses. An e-mail campaign among Cougars’ boosters raised pledges of more than $250,000 to keep Bennett.
Tony Bennett and his wife, Laurel, built a new house in Pullman, and have said they consider it a good place to raise their children, Anna, 5, and Eli, 4.
Tony Bennett said he had been contacted about other college jobs, but declined to discuss them. He also recalled advice to seek a new job if he had a good season.
But he said he was grateful to Washington State for giving him a chance to be a head coach.
“I knew I wanted to be back,” Bennett said, adding that his family is comfortable in Pullman, a town of 25,000 people 75 miles south of Spokane.
“For me it’s about fit,” Bennett said, adding that is the same thing he tells recruits. “This program, this job, fits me.”
Wow. Nice to see someone stick with the program. Literally. Congrats to WSU and hats off to Tony Bennett for putting loyalty above money and instant fame.