CLEMSON - Show progress, or fear for your position, Brad Brownell was warned.
Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich wasn't ready in October to commit to Brownell long-term. He didn't exactly insist the Tigers cut down the nets at the Final Four right away - but he demanded improvement, and quickly.
"We saw it," Radakovich said this week. "Absolutely."
When Littlejohn Coliseum undergoes renovation and reopens a couple seasons from now, it will be Brownell leading the Tigers into the future of men's basketball, upon signing a brand new six-year, $10.6 million contract Friday.
"I feel great about not only the direction where Brad's taking the program, but Clemson's investment now and redoing Littlejohn and some of the projects around it," Radakovich told The Post and Courier Wednesday. "Those are all important steps that have to be taken."
It's a football school, but financially, Clemson's taking basketball seriously now. Brownell, 45, will earn $1.55 million in base salary and supplemental income in 2014-15, with that figure steadily increasing each ensuing season until it peaks with a $2 million payday in 2019-20.
After two consecutive losing seasons, Radakovich drew a line in the sand. Brownell responded, improving Clemson's win total from 13 to 23 victories with a top-five scoring defense, forward K.J. McDaniels' all-ACC first-team campaign and a run to the NIT semifinals.
Brownell, 74-58 through four years, will turn his attention to taking the Tigers back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2010-11.
"I take great pride in the many accomplishments of our players on and off the court," Brownell said in a statement. "I look forward to building on the success of this past season and believe there is a great deal of positive momentum within the program."
When speaking with The Post and Courier Wednesday, knowing a new contract was imminent, Brownell smiled as he realized he was entering his fifth year at Clemson - the first time he's reached that distance in one spot as a head coach.
With two daughters in the seventh and 10th grades, the former UNC-Wilmington and Wright State head man was thrilled to tell his family they're settled for the long haul.
"You don't want your kids to have to jump around," Brownell said. "You'd love to keep them in the same (place.) They're entrenched pretty good at this stage.
"My wife likes it here. We certainly think it's special, I enjoy coaching at Clemson. Love the type of school it is, the kind of kids we attract, the fan base and the values that come with the school. It's a good fit for me."
All along, Radakovich knew it was a two-way street to convince Brownell - perhaps an intriguing prospect for more notorious jobs down the road - to stick around.
"Everybody looks at it from one side of the deal; it has to be two," Radakovich said. "It was important for him to see that Clemson is at the point now where we want to invest in our basketball program, and we also want to invest in him as the leader of the basketball program."
Originally brought in at $900,000 for the 2010-11 season, Brownell's contract was amended to pay him $1.2 million in the spring of 2011, then $1.35 million in the spring of 2012.
Clemson followed a trend many universities are adopting Friday, by integrating a declining buyout clause that would allow the athletic department to recoup some of Brownell's future earnings if Brownell were fired before the end of his deal.
Brownell would be owed a straight fee of $5 million if he's released in the next two seasons, $3.5 million if during year three, or $3 million if during years four or five. That offers Clemson a discount, relative to owing him the entirety of his earnings as has been the contractual obligation on prior deals.
On the other hand, Brownell would owe Clemson $1.5 million if he took another job within the next two years, $1 million if he did so after year three, $900,000 after year four and $500,000 before the final year of his contract.
Brownell's yearly bonus opportunities total as high as $565,000. Performance incentives include $10,000 for any future NIT berth or achieving an academic progress rate benchmark; $15,000 for winning the NIT championship; $25,000 for being named ACC Coach of the Year; $35,000 for an NCAA tournament berth, plus $20,000 for each NCAA win; $50,000 for being named National Coach of the Year; $80,000 for an ACC regular-season championship; and $100,000 for winning an ACC tournament championship or an NCAA tournament championship.
Brownell picked up a $20,000 signing bonus Friday. He still receives 10 tickets to all Tigers men's basketball games, plus six tickets to football, baseball and women's basketball games held in Clemson.
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