Tony gets raise, so where's buyout increase?

TONY BENNETT HAS RECEIVED a $200,000 pay bump, his annual salary is now a guaranteed $1 million, but Washington State has apparently done nothing in the revised contract to stave off potential suitors. Indeed, except for tacking on one more year to the buyout clause, thus matching the one-year extension on the life of the contract, the buyout provisions remain unchanged. So what does that mean?

It means that at the same time Bennett's national stock skyrockets, the cost for the Indianas of the world to lure him away continues to get smaller.


According to the Seattle Times, which used a Freedom of Information request to obtain news of Bennett's pay increase, the contract's buyout provisions weren't addressed. What that means is that the $500,000 it would have cost another school to hire away Bennett this past season now drops, as scheduled, to $400,000 this year and eventually plateaus at $250,000 beginning in 2012.

The new contract runs to May, 2015.

But whether you're talking about 2012 or 2015, those dates mean nothing when you're arguably talking about the most coveted coach in the nation.

What means something is the size of the buyout clause that could give schools pause before trying to poach Tony. The $500,000 that was in effect this past season was itself underwhelming give the largess that schools such as Indiana possess. But now it's $400,000 and scaling down to $250,000.

Those numbers are the type that the T. Boone Pickens-type of boosters around the nation laugh at. Which of course means we can expect the annual Feb-March-April circus around Tony's future to continue unabashedly.

A year ago, John Beilein, who went to Michigan from West Virginia last April, had a contract that called for a $2.5 million buyout clause. Ben Braun, fired this year at Cal, had a $1 million buyout in his contract.

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

Efforts today to reach WSU athletic director Jim Sterk for comment on the matter were unsuccessful.

Bennett's assistants will also receive raises at his request and there will be facilities upgrades and also charter air travel improvements for the hoops program.

The majority of the basketball coaches in the Pac-10 are making more than $1 million. Washington's Lorenzo makes a guaranteed him $1.105 million per season, with incentives that could boost that to around $1.5 million.

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