CLEMSON — It was only a matter of time until Clemson gave Dabo Swinney a raise and an extension for delivering the university its second national championship in program history. Friday they came.
The Clemson board of trustees compensation committee officially approved a new deal for the Tigers' head football coach, one that runs eight years and will pay him an average of $6.75 million a year through 2024. That average is up from the $5.33 million a year he was going to make through his existing contract. His total compensation will be $54 million with base salary, supplemental pay, licensing and signing bonuses.
As it pertains to average salary per year, Swinney is now the third-highest paid coach in all of college football, only behind Alabama's Nick Saban ($8.1 million a year) and Michigan's Jim Harbaugh ($7.6 million a year). Ohio State's Urban Meyer will make an average of $6.6 million a year and Florida State's Jimbo Fisher will make an average of $5.7 million a year to round out the top five.
"I just want to say, we're incredibly excited about being able to get Dabo a new contract," Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich said. "He means so much to our athletic department, to our university, to our community. He and (wife) Kathleen are just incredible ambassadors for this institution."
Not including incentives, Swinney will make:
- $6 million in 2017 (up from $4.8 million)
- $6.2 million in 2018
- $6.2 million in 2019
- $6.3 million in 2020
- $6.4 million in 2021
- $6.5 million in 2022
- $6.6 million in 2023
- $6.6 million in 2024
His raise comes on the heels of Clemson's national championship, when the Tigers knocked off Saban and Alabama, 35-31, in January for the school's first title in more than three decades. The 47-year-old Swinney is 89-28 overall as Clemson's head coach since 2008 with a .761 winning percentage. Through his incentives package a season ago, Swinney made $1.4 million extra for postseason success, in addition to his regular salary.
His new contract will award him the following incentives through 2024:
- $75,000 or $100,000 depending on if Clemson meets a certain Academic Progress Rate
- $50,000 for an ACC championship appearance, plus $150,000 more for a win
- $50,000 for eight regular seasons wins and a non-CFP Bowl Game appearance
- $100,000 for a New Year's 6 Bowl Game appearance
- $200,000 for a CFP Semifinal apperance
- $200,000 for a national championship appearance
- $250,000 for a national championship
- $25,000 for ACC Coach of the Year award or $50,000 for National Coach of the Year award
Swinney will receive a $1.5 million signing bonus in September, a $1 million signing bonus in March of 2019 and a $700,000 signing bonus in March of 2021.
Should Swinney leave Clemson before Dec. 31 of 2017 for another job, he would owe the university a $6 million buyout, which is the heftiest buyout in the nation among the top five paid coaches. Should he leave before Dec. 31 of 2018, he would owe $6 million. That buyout reduces to $4 million if he departs before Dec. 31 of 2019, $3 million before Dec. 31 of 2020, $2 million before Dec. 31 of 2021, $1 million before Dec. 31 of 2022 and $1 million before Dec. 31 of 2023.
For context: If Saban leaves Alabama this year, he would owe the university nothing. Swinney would owe $6 million to Clemson. By agreeing to such substantial buyout terms, Swinney is making an obvious statement of his loyalty to Clemson's program and his intentions of remaining the university's head coach for the long haul.
If the university were to part ways with Swinney, Clemson would owe him $5 million times the number of years remaining on his contract in years one through six. For years seven and eight, Clemson would owe him his remaining base salary plus the money he would make from supplemental pay and licensing.
"We’re just happy that we were able to come to an agreement prior to the football season," Radakovich said. "That was always our goal and we’ve been able to accomplish that and look forward to another great eight years."
Radakovich said the process for Swinney's new contract began in June. Clemson used the salaries of the three other active national championship coaches — Saban, Meyer and Fisher — as a barometer for Swinney's new mark, then adjusted his pay accordingly.
"Because Dabo’s won a national championship here at Clemson, the market is defined by those four individuals who are currently active coaches that have national championship victories," Radakovich said. "It further includes coach Harbaugh at Michigan because he had a Super Bowl appearance. He’s been at a very, very high level. That’s kind of the market and really the kind of parameters that we used in doing our market assessment and ultimately created the terms based on that."