Coach Bennett and WSU agree to work out 7-year contract

PULLMAN – Washington State University and Men’s Basketball Head Coach Tony Bennett have agreed to restructure Bennett’s contract, Cougar Director of Athletics Jim Sterk announced Wednesday, March 28. The deal, when finalized, will run through the 2013-14 season.

“Tony has agreed in principle to a seven-year contract and enhancement, but we are still working out the structure, so it would be premature to release any numbers,” Sterk said. “We have not worked out all the specifics, and will not do so until after the Final Four.”

Bennett led the Cougars to 26 wins this season, tying WSU’s 1941 national runner-up squad for the most in school history. The Cougars posted their first NCAA Tournament win in 24 years with a first round defeat of Oral Roberts, March 15 in Sacramento, Calif.

“I want this group of young men and this program to know we do not want to be a flash in the pan,” Bennett said. “We worked hard for four years to get to where we are. I am so excited to be in Pullman. I love the character of the young men on our team.”

And the feeling go both directions. “I speak for the whole team when I say we’re excited to have him back and look forward to taking another step in the right direction next year,” said Daven Harmeling, a leading player on the 2007 Cougar team. 

This season, Bennett has been named national coach of the year by the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA Henry Iba Award), The Sporting News, Basketball Times and In addition, he was the recipient of the National Association of Basketball Coaches District 14, USBWA District 9, Pacific-10 Conference and Pacific-10 coach of the year honors. He is a finalist for The Naismith Award (NABC national coach of the year), The Clair Bee Award (Chip Hilton Sports and Naismith Hall of Fame national coach of the year) and The Jim Phelan Award ( national coach of the year).

“We are thrilled that we have one of the best coaches in college basketball at Washington State and are excited about the future,” Sterk said. “When you talk about Tony and performance of our team this year, you must also give credit to his assistants, as well as the student-athletes who have committed themselves to excellence both on and off the court.” 

“Tony Bennett exemplifies all that is best about college athletics,” WSU President V. Lane Rawlins. “His passion, demeanor, and values are exactly what you would want for one who spends his time with students. It is a big bonus that he is a winner!”

For additional stories on Wednesday’s press conference and announcement go to:

* The Seattle Times — Bud Withers: WSU commitment: 7 years for Bennett,

* The Seattle Times — Jerry Brewer: Prodigy of the Palouse just does the right thing,

* The Seattle Post Intelligencer — Bennett decides to stick with Cougars,

* Seattle Post-Intelligencer — Go 2 Guy: Bennett is the anti-Erickson,

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