Illinois athletics is opening up the war chest for their next men’s basketball hire. The program’s brief pursuit of Monty Williams indicated that they’re willing to offer top dollar for the right candidate, and we now roughly know what that entails. According to Rock M Nation’s Sam Snelling, the Fighting Illini are mulling over a potential $4.8 million/year deal for Virginia’s Tony Bennett.
Here’s what I know, Illinois is talking about offering $4.8m/yr to Tony Bennett, they aren’t talking about offering half that for Cuonzo— Sam Snelling (@SamTSnelling) March 15, 2017
We’ve had multiple sources provide similar information over the past few days, meaning there’s every reason to believe that this massive figure is legitimate. Keep in mind, Virginia is preparing for their NCAA Tournament game against UNC Wilmington, so it’s doubtful that Illinois has (un)officially submitted any sort of job offer to Bennett at this time.
To quickly put that number into perspective, it would be the fourth-largest annual contract for a college basketball coach. Only Mike Krzyzewski ($7.3 million), John Calipari ($6.6 million), and Rick Pitino ($6.0 million) would have more lucrative deals. Bennett is currently making $2.1 million/year at Virginia.
Elsewhere, media reports are indicating that Missouri has offered their head coaching position to California’s Cuonzo Martin; the deal is rumored to be in the neighborhood of $3.5 million/year. Martin, of course, has been a popular fan choice for the Illinois job over the past few months. Interest from the Fighting Illini seems to have significantly declined in the past few weeks, though, so I’d be very surprised if he ends up as the next coach in Champaign. Especially since the Orange and Blue are apparently willing throw $5 million/year at their top targets.
UPDATE (4:50pm): Martin will indeed be the next head coach at Missouri.