The Virginia men’s basketball program brought home the national championship with a win in the 2019 NCAA Tournament championship game over the No. 3 seed Texas Tech Red Raiders at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was a back-and-forth game that went down to the wire, with Tony Bennett’s top-ranked team ultimately earning an overtime win.
It marked the first national championship victory in the program’s history.
The 2019 NCAA Tournament marked the third time Virginia had ever reached the Final Four, but they were finally able to get over the hump after a disastrous tournament outing in 2018. It was just one year ago, that Bennett and the Cavaliers entered the tournament as the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament before suffering a stunning upset in the opening round to No. 16 seed UMBC. Virginia became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
But despite their turnaround and accomplishments on the court, Bennett is not taking all of the benefits that come with winning a national title.
In fact, according to NBC News, Bennett declined a pay raise after leading the Cavaliers to the national championship. He did, however, agree to extend his current contract with the university by one season. Instead of taking the money for himself, Bennett hopes it will be used to continue improving the athletic program.
“[My wife] 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.
“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.”
As you would expect, that gesture received praise from the university.
“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,” university president Jim Ryan said. “Tony is one of the most selfless people I’ve ever met, and this is just the latest example.”
Virginia will kick off its 2019-20 campaign on Wednesday, November 6 with a road game against the Syracuse Orange.