CLEMSON — Dabo Swinney molded Clemson into a top-10 football program. Now he’ll be paid accordingly.
The Clemson board of trustees compensation committee on Tuesday morning approved a restructured contract for Swinney that will pay him $30.75 million in base, supplemental and licensing salary over the next six years.
Swinney, 46, saw his 2016 salary raised to $4.55 million — which is prorated for the remainder of the calendar year. His earnings will incrementally rise $250,000 each of the next two seasons and then $200,000 each of the ensuing three seasons, rising to $5.65 million for the 2021 season.
“As we look at coach Swinney and all the things he and his staff have done, allowing us as an organization to grow, he’s an integral part of that,” athletic director Dan Radakovich said Tuesday. “We wanted to make sure we rewarded him and kept him in the elite level of college football head coaches in the country.”
Based on 2015 salary numbers compiled by USA Today Sports, Swinney becomes the eighth-highest paid head coach in college football, between Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin ($5 million in 2015) and Penn State’s James Franklin ($4.4 million). Swinney retains the ACC’s second-highest salary, behind Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher’s $5.15 million.
Last year, Swinney’s $3.3 million was topped by 12 of the SEC’s 14 head coaches, including former South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier, and ranked No. 26 nationally.
“The data’s out there. You can mine it and morph it a little bit to your current situation at your university,” Radakovich said. “Essentially, you’re looking at a market of very few individuals who are incredibly successful at their craft. We have one on our campus, and we want to make sure he stays here.”
Swinney, who led Clemson to the 2016 College Football Playoff national championship game and is 35-6 the past three seasons, also picked up a $275,000 signing bonus Tuesday and is due retention bonuses of $600,000 if still serving as Clemson’s head coach on Jan. 1, 2019, and $400,000 on Jan. 1, 2021.
“I’m excited and thankful for the opportunity to do what I love at such a great institution,” Swinney said. “We’ve built a solid foundation of success and will continue to work toward our goals of preparing young men for their future and being successful in everything we do.”
This contract replaces Swinney’s previous deal reached in January 2014, which was signed just after Clemson defeated Ohio State in the Orange Bowl. That deal also had Swinney signed through 2021, at a total of $27.15 million over eight years. Under that contract, Swinney’s average yearly earnings were just under $3.4 million; his new deal stipulates an average of $5.125 million through 2021.
The board of trustees is scheduled to re-evaluate the contract between Jan. 15, 2018, and April 15, 2018, in an official review.
If Clemson were to fire Swinney, he would receive a generous buyout with the amount tied to the number of years remaining on his contract. Clemson would owe Swinney $20 million (minus mitigating earnings elsewhere) if fired in 2016-17, $18 million in 2018, $14 million in 2019, $9 million in 2020 and $5 million in 2021, making the entire $30.75 million deal close to 100 percent guaranteed.
On the other hand, if Swinney left Clemson on his own, he would owe the school $1 million for each remaining year on his contract. The exception: he owes Clemson nothing if he accepts an NFL head coaching position. Radakovich has the right to waive or reduce that buyout.
USA Today’s latest college athletic department finances database, which analyzed numbers from 2014, ranked Clemson at No. 39 both in expenses and revenues. Schools like California, Illinois, Rutgers and Texas Tech each reported higher money in and money out than Clemson in 2014 despite not devoting the same range of football-related resources.
“There’s a lot of focus on Clemson right now, due to the fact we had that incredible run this past fall,” Radakovich said. “As we look at how important that is, from a board member’s perspective, it moves away from athletics and into other areas of the university. We create events to showcase an institution, and with our football program under Dabo’s leadership, that’s at a whole level Clemson hasn’t seen in an awful long time.”
Clemson is 75-27 since Swinney’s first game as interim coach on Oct. 18, 2008.
On Tuesday, Clemson’s compensation committee also approved one-year extensions for men’s and women’s basketball assistants.
Brad Brownell’s three assistants each received 2 percent raises. New salaries are $184,875 for Mike Winiecki, $163,200 for Richie Riley and $159,375 for Steve Smith.
Audra Smith assistants Daryl Oliver and Margaret Richards received one-year extensions with undisclosed salaries.