UCLA Coaching Rumors: Bruins Want to Pursue Virginia’s Tony Bennett

UCLA Tony Bennett coaching rumors

Getty Virginia Cavaliers basketball coach Tony Bennett

While the Virginia Cavaliers and head coach Tony Bennett prepare for their trip to the 2019 NCAA Tournament Final Four, an interesting side topic has come to light. Specifically, the latest chatter involves Bennett and his future with the school following the team’s current run.

Although the Virginia coach has shown no interest in leaving town, it appears he’s drawing interest from at least one high-profile program. As The Athletic’s Seth Davis reported, the UCLA Bruins have an interest in pursuing Bennett after the Cavaliers’ season wraps up.

UCLA representatives have met with former Ohio State coach Thad Matta, but he has withdrawn his name from consideration. UCLA also wants to pursue Virginia coach Tony Bennett, but he has declined to have any conversations until his team is through playing. The Cavaliers will face Auburn on Saturday night at the Final Four in Minneapolis.

This comes on the heels of news also reported by Davis that current Kentucky Wildcats coach John Calipari has opted to decline a six-year, $48 million deal from UCLA. In turn, he’ll remain with Kentucky for the foreseeable future.

Tony Bennett’s Record With Virginia

After spending three seasons with Washington State, Bennett landed with the Cavaliers, where he’s been for the past 10 years. After finishing just below the .500 mark in year one, he’s helped turn the tides at the school, as they’ve posted a winning record in each year to follow.

Under Bennett’s watch, Virginia has made six-straight NCAA tournament appearances and seven of the past eight. They’ve also won either the regular season ACC title or the conference tournament four times while earning the No. 1 ranking in college basketball during the 2017-18 season.

Before the current season, Virginia’s last trip to the Final Four came back in the 1984 season when they fell 49-47 to Houston, finishing the year just short of the national championship. Bennett has led the Cavaliers to a winning percentage north of 91 percent in each of the past two seasons, and they head into the 2019 Final Four with a 33-3 mark.

Tony Bennett’s Future Outlook

It remains a complete unknown as to whether Bennett would have interest in the UCLA job after helping the Cavaliers build one of the nation’s top basketball programs. Beyond that, it’s also no guarantee that the same six-year, $48 million offer which Calipari received would be put on the table for Bennett.

If it were even in that ballpark, the $8 million per year base salary would be nearly double what Bennett currently makes. As USA Today revealed, the Virginia coach earns $4.15 million per year but can receive up to $1.45 million in max bonuses. If UCLA were to offer the coach a deal, there’s also a chance the Cavaliers could opt to match it or offer Bennett a larger extension this coming offseason.

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