Scattershooting: New coaching contracts; recruitng updates, rankings; Golden Nuggets

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Scattershooting around the ACC, while taking a closer look at the recent contract extensions for Virginia basketball coach Tony Bennett and baseball coach Brian O’Connor.

Thanks to Chris Graham of the Augusta Free Press for filing Freedom of Information Acts to gain the information on the deals, or else this information would likely not be released by the school.

O’Connor, who just took UVA to its third College World Series appearance in the last four years, agreed to a three-year extension and is worth every penny of his new $1.4 million deal, which runs through the 2031 season. The new package puts him among the Top 10 highest-paid college baseball coaches and rightfully so, considering where he has taken the Virginia program.

The Cavaliers skipper was paid $717,111 this past year.

Meanwhile, Tony Bennett, the winningest coach in UVA basketball history, had his contract extended to 2031 as well, and he is believed to be the ACC’s second-highest paid coach at $4,020,287 per year, which will include a 5-percent raise each July on his $670,049 base salary only. That puts Bennett second only in the league to Duke’s John Scheyer, who is believed to make more than $7 million a year (Duke is a private school, so his compensation is not made public). Carolina’s Hubert Davis reportedly is paid $2.6 million a year, but we’re not sure how accurate that number really is.

Bennett also has the normal bonuses written into his contract for team and personal achievements in addition to longevity bonuses. If he is still UVA’s coach on March 15, 2025, he will receive an additional $400,000; $1 million is he’s still the coach on March 15, 2027; another $400,000 if he is coach on March 15, 2029; and another $1 million if he makes it to March 15, 2031.

Where UVA Football recruiting stacks up

The national recruiting sites haven’t updated their team rankings for the 2025 recruiting class since Virginia gained its 17th commitment from Corey Costner (picked the Cavaliers over Penn State, Notre Dame, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia Tech), so UVA’s class may have bumped up a couple of slots.

However, heading into last weekend, here’s where the Wahoos ranked with 247Sports, and Rivals:

247 has UVA at No. 45 nationally, but we’ve heard that with Costner, the Cavaliers might jump to No. 40. Virginia was somewhere around No. 80 with its 2024 class.

On3 isn’t as impressed and has UVA at No. 57, while Rivals has the Cavaliers at No. 45.

Here’s how the three services currently rank the ACC.

247: (9) Miami; (11) Clemson; (21) SMU; (24) Georgia Tech; (26) Florida State; (29) Stanford; (30) Duke; (32) Syracuse; (36) Pitt; (43) Virginia Tech; (44) Boston College; (45) Virginia; (47) North Carolina; (50) NC State; (53) Wake Forest; (64) Louisville; (65) California.

On3: (7) Clemson; (9) FSU; (10) Miami; (24) SMU; (28) Georgia Tech; (31) UNC; (32) Stanford; (41) Duke; (42) Pitt; (44) Syracuse; (49) Virginia Tech; (57) Virginia; (60) BC; (61) Wake; (62) Louisville; (66) Cal.

Rivals: (9) Miami; (15) Clemson; (16) Georgia Tech; (24) Duke; (26) Syracuse; (29) Pitt; (32) FSU; (33) Stanford; (34) SMU; (40) BC; (45) Virginia; (47) Virginia Tech; (49) NC State; (55) Wake; (58) UNC: (63) Louisville; (70) Cal.

Oh, and SMU’s class was recently boosted when 4-star quarterback Ty Hawkins flipped his commitment from TCU to the Mustangs, plus 4-star offensive tackle Dramodd Odoms committed to SMU.

The Ponies are coming

This week, SMU, along with Stanford and California, officially became members of the ACC, expanding the league to 17 teams for football, 18 for most of the other sports.

Don’t take the Mustangs lightly. Back before the old Southwest Conference blew up and SMU became the only school in NCAA history to be hit with the “Death Sentence,” the Ponies regularly battled for the league title in football. That was nearly 40 years ago.

There is so much pride from the SMU alums in finally rejoining a power conference, watch out. They are coming to the ACC to win.

“I got chill bumps,” SMU athletic director Rick Hart told the Dallas Morning News about seeing ACC logos in the Mustangs’ basketball arena. “Let’s face it. You want to see Syracuse come in here, Virginia and Duke and North Carolina and Nore Dame and Miami and Stanford. That’s just a different level of competition, of excitement and engagement.”

Remember, SMU wanted in the ACC so desperately that the school agreed to forgo nine years of TV rights money, an average of about $39 million a year (that’s about $350 million for the mathematically challenged). On top of that, SMU had to pay the American Athletic Conference $18 million in exit fees.

It’s only money if you have one of the richest backings in the nation, and SMU does. The school officially announced that for the 2023-24 fiscal year, it raised a record-breaking $159 million, smashing its old record of less than $80 million.

Where does $159 million rank on the national scale? Let’s put it this way. In 2022-23, Texas A&M led the nation in athletic fundraising with $115 million, according to Sportico. Texas was second at $86 million.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, SMU’s enrollment is a mere 7,115.

Here come the Ponies.

UVA Hoops recruiting news

The weekend of Sept. 13-15 is a big one for Virginia’s basketball program. Bennett & Co., will be hosting two of the nation’s top prospects from the recruiting class of 2025.

Chance Mallory, the home-grown, 5-foot-9 point guard from St. Anne’s-Belfield, will join SF Nate Ament of Warrenton (Va.) Highland on official visits to UVA.

Mallory, who suffered a broken ankle and is sidelined for the summer, has set official visits for his six finalists: Virginia, Miami, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Villanova and Tennessee. Mallory is a 4-star.

Ament, who has recently been upgraded to a 5-star, has narrowed his list to six schools as well: Virginia, North Carolina, Duke, UConn, Kentucky, Tennessee and Michigan. The 6-9 forward is ranked the No. 7 overall player in the nation at any position, and has put forth some amazing performances of late. His last three games: 24 points, 8 rebounds; 32 points (6 for 10 on 3’s), 13 rebounds; and 41 points, 27 rebounds and 6 blocks.

Wahoo Olympians

Here is a current list of present and former UVA athletes that have qualified for the upcoming Paris Olympics:

Aimee Canny (rising junior) – South Africa – Swimming – 200 Free, 4×200 Free Relay
Kate Douglass – USA – Swimming – 100 Free, 200 IM, 200 Breast
Paige Madden – USA – Swimming – 400 Free, 800 Free, 4×200 Relay
Alex Walsh (grad student) – USA – Swimming – 200 IM
Gretchen Walsh (rising senior) – USA – Swimming – 100 Fly, 50 Free, 4×100 Free
Emma Weber (rising junior) – USA – Swimming -100 Breast
Danielle Collins – USA – Tennis – Doubles, Singles
Emma Navarro – USA – Tennis – Singles
Heidi Long – England – Rowing – W8+
Emily Sonnett – USA – Women’s Soccer
Filip Mihaljevic – Croatia – Track & Field – Shot Put
Bridget Guy Williams – USA – Track & Field – Pole Vault

Sky Dahl (rising senior) – USA – Rowing – PR3 Mixed 4+

Other UVA alums competing who were not varsity athletes:

Will Coleman (UVA College of Arts & Sciences) – USA – Equestrian – Eventing

Matt Simpson (UVA Law) – USA – Goalball

Baseball portal news

Last week, Virginia added three pitchers from the transfer portal (click here for more), and has picked up a new arm this week in southpaw Matt Lanzendorfer of Division 3 national champion Misericordia.

Putting up a 4-0 record this past spring with eight saves and a 1.24 ERA, he allowed batters to only hit .186 against him, while striking out 50 and walking a dozen. He threw 43.2 innings for the season.

“The next chapter is here,” Lanzendorfer posted on his Twitter.

Misericordia, a school that I had not personally heard of before now, is a private Catholic school in Dallas, Pa., which I had also never heard of before.

Hootie’s Golden Nuggets …

  • Former North Carolina big man Armondo Bacot said during a recent interview shared on Twitter that he received “more than $2 million in NIL money” during his time as a Tar Heel.
  • Klay Thompson recently talked about his recruitment out of high school and noted that he badly wanted to play in the Pac 12, but those schools didn’t want him until Tony Bennett and Washington State became interested. “Then Tony Bennett came calling,” Thompson said. “I would just shoot with him and he played in the league, and I was like, ‘You really made the league, bro? You’re a 5-11, little white guy and you can get to the league? You promise I can get there?’ Tony had an incredible jump shot and I saw him shoot and I thought I can learn from him. That’s where I need to be.”
  • Eight schools made it into the top 25 of the Learfield Director’s Cup standings (UVA was No. 5, see related story here), and also into the US News and World Report academic rankings. Six of the eight are ACC schools: Virginia, North Carolina, Duke, Stanford, Cal and Notre Dame. The other two are Michigan and UCLA.
  • According to Pro Football Focus rankings, Virginia has two of the ACC’s top seven highest-graded returning safeties: Corey Thomas Jr. (No. 4) and Jonas Sanker (tied for No. 6).
  • Former Wahoo southpaw Andrew Abbott continues to impress with the Cincinnati Reds, winning his last four starts and six of his last seven, including a 6-0 shutout of the Rockies on Monday night and helping the Reds sweep the Yankees a week ago. Against the Rockies, the former Wahoo star went seven innings, giving up three hits, walking only two and striking out eight. Abbott went 6.1 innings against the Yankees, allowing one run, three hits, and walking four. On the season, he’s 9-6 with a 3.28 ERA, has 18 starts, 103 innings pitched, has walked 38 and struck out 82.
  • Five former UVA players are competing in the NBA Summer League: Armaan Franklin (Nuggets), Reece Beekman (Warriors), Jay Huff (Magic), Ryan Dunn (Suns) and Kihei Clark (Bucks). Also, Mamadi Diakite has been picked up by the Brooklyn Nets.
  • UVA Darden School graduate Chris Patrick (2006) has been promoted to general manager of the NHL’s Washington Capitals. Patrick has been with the Caps since 2008.
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