Conflicting reports on Bennett; AD statement

TWO NEWS REPORTS have Tony Bennett as a finalist for the Cal and Indiana jobs. One of those says he is "expecting to leave" Pullman. But another published Saturday quotes Bennett as saying he has not been offered the Indiana job. WSU is scheduling an end of the year news conference for Bennett but when it will take place remains up in the air. Jim Sterk also weighed in late Saturday.

"Regarding the status of Tony Bennett, I have not been contacted by any other university asking for permission to speak with Tony," said Sterk on Saturday night. "This past week we completed another tremendous basketball season, capped by a ‘Sweet 16' appearance, and we are excited to have Tony Bennett as our basketball coach and about the future of our program." Bennett's annual end of the year news conference will be scheduled for Monday or Tuesday according to WSU, with the date and time still to be nailed down.

A report by ESPN Saturday morning quotes Bennett as saying, "I haven't had one conversation with [Indiana] and so, no, I haven't been offered the job."

However, the report did not include any quotes from Bennett on his future in Pullman, or on the Cal job.

Earlier, a report by the San Francisco Chronicle citing unnamed sources said Bennett was "expecting to leave" and was one of two finalists for the job at Cal.

Another earlier report on Friday night, this one by Fox Sports, had stated Bennett had been offered the Indiana position. The report also had cited unnamed sources.

Until Bennett himself comes out and says he's staying, interviewing for other positions or leaving, it would appear Cougar fans for the second straight offseason will have to wait to see if their coach will be on the WSU sidelines next year.

Bennett makes a guaranteed $800,000 annually. The contract includes a $500,000 buyout clause, should Bennett leave any date prior to April 30, 2008. The buyout decreases by $50,000 each subsequent year.

After Bennett's first season at the helm, amid reports of Bennett possibly leaving WSU, generous Cougar fans donated some $600,000 to WSU's Basketball Excellence Fund. Athletic director Jim Sterk sent an email appeal to fans earlier this month asking them to prime that pump again.

Washington State is 52-17 over the last two seasons under Bennett, reaching the second and third rounds of the NCAA Tournament in two years.

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