SportsPulse: The Spartans shocked Zion Williamson and the Duke Blue Devils with their thrilling upset. USA TODAY’s Jeff Zillgitt believes how they did it is a recipe to win it all in Minnesota.
Here’s another way of looking at those scintillating NCAA men’s basketball tournament regionals:
Four men, one long weekend, $1 million.
The money is what Auburn’s Bruce Pearl, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Texas Tech’s Chris Beard and Virginia’s Tony Bennett combined to gain in bonuses from wins in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8.
Bennett, whose contract includes no incentive for winning the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season championship, was responsible for half the take. He’s getting $250,000 for the Cavaliers’ four-point win over Oregon in the regional semifinals and $250,000 more for their overtime victory over Purdue that put them in the Final Four.
His team will need to win the national championship for him to add on again — that would bring $400,000. But he’s already picked up $850,000 in bonuses, including $50,000 for being named ACC coach of the year, as well as a $1 million longevity payment that became due March 15 when he completed a prescribed five-year period as Virginia’s head coach.
Over the past two seasons, Bennett now had racked up $1.3 million in incentives.
Pearl gained $100,000 for each of Auburn’s regional victories, meaning that in a span of roughly a week, he’s gotten a total of $250,000 from his team beating Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky. His $400,000 bonus total so far includes $25,000 for his team reaching 22 wins for the season and $25,000 more for reaching 25 wins.
Now with a 30-9 record, Pearl would get $100,000 for win No. 31 and $200,000 more for win No. 32.
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Beard reached a $75,000 bonus by winning in the regional semifinals and a $100,000 bonus by winning in the regional final. His next step would be a $200,000 award for winning a national championship.
His $600,000 total so far includes $250,000 for the Red Raiders’ share of the Big 12 Conference regular season title. For some context, keep in mind that during the 2015-16 season, Beard was getting $260,000 in basic annual compensation from Arkansas-Little Rock.
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Izzo’s annual total pay has been above $4 million since the 2014-15 season, so his incentive package is more modest. It also required the Spartans to win in both the Sweet 16 and the Elite 8 for him to gain additional money, but when they did that, he picked up not only $100,000 from Michigan State, but also $25,000 from the personal contract he has with Nike that the university signs and makes public.
That gave him a total $225,000 for a season that also has included the Big Ten regular season co-championship — which was worth $50,000 — and the Big Ten tournament title, which gave him nothing beyond re-confirming the $25,000 he was going to get for an NCAA tournament bid.
The Spartans again will have to win two more games before Izzo reaches another payout — one that would be worth $150,000 more from the school and $50,000 more from Nike.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Steve Berkowitz on Twitter @ByBerkowitz.