CLEMSON — It has taken longer than expected, but at last it is set to become official — come July, at Clemson's Board of Trustees meeting, Clemson men's basketball coach Brad Brownell is finally expected to receive his new contract.
Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich confirmed to the media last week that Brownell and the athletic department are in the final stages of negotiations.
"We're very nearly done," Radakovich said. "We’re very, very close to having that done and being then prepared to take (the matter) to our Board of Trustees for their ratification and approval."
Clemson's next quarterly Board of Trustees meeting is scheduled for July 19-22, and by all means, the board will almost certainly approve Brownell's new contract without any issues. But the reality that his new contract will not come to fruition until almost four full months after the basketball season ended raises questions about why the process took so long.
This time last year, Brownell was granted an extension through 2021 in April of 2017, only about a month after his team's 2016-17 season ended with a loss in the NIT to Oakland. In the past, raises and extensions have come the following May after respective basketball seasons, too.
Couple that with Radakovich indicating in April that a new contract was on the way in the coming weeks, and questions lingered about why this process took so long.
Asked about that process and if there was any specific reason for why it took uncharacteristically long this time around, Radakovich said it was simply an issue of timing. He indicated there was no reason for concern.
"I don't know that there's any reason why it's taken longer. After the basketball season, there was a little downtime for him, then there was some recruiting, there were some personnel things that they needed to do from a player perspective in bringing in a couple of transfers that they had worked on, so that was really taking up a whole lot of time," Radakovich said. "There was never felt to be any real issue in waiting until the time that we had in front of us now, the July Board of Trustees meeting."
Brownell, who is coming off of his eighth season at the helm of the program, was guaranteed to make $1.8 million in 2017-18, then earned himself $80,000 more in bonuses for the run his team went on through the Sweet 16. According to USA Today, Brownell was set to receive $20,000 for the top-four seed in the ACC Tournament his team secured, $20,000 for a bid into the NCAA Tournament — the program's first since 2010-11 — and $20,000 each for a first and second-round win in the NCAA Tournament, which Clemson got over New Mexico State and Auburn in San Diego.
His current contract projects him to earn $1.9 million in 2018-19 and $2 million in both 2019-20 and 2020-21, though it is very likely those numbers will go up in July given his success this past season.
"I have one fact that puts this year's Clemson basketball season in perspective," longtime Clemson SID and play-by-play announcer Tim Bourret wrote in a column ahead of his July retirement. "Twelve times, a man has walked on the moon. Four times, Clemson has reached the Sweet 16."
Certainly, Clemson is aware of the gravity of what Brownell accomplished, and the future continues to look bright heading into 2018-19.
Brownell loses senior leaders Gabe DeVoe and Donte Grantham, but he returns leading scorer Marcquise Reed, point guard Shelton Mitchell, All-ACC defender Elijah Thomas and rising star Aamir Simms.
After the 2016-17 season, Radakovich and Brownell sat down together when they decided changes were necessary if Clemson was going to perform on the level the university expected.
"I'm extremely proud of the way our guys competed this year, especially in the league,” Brownell said. “Just played some really good basketball with challenging situations.”
Now, Brownell is reaping the benefits.