Dabo Swinney and Clemson are putting the finishing touches on a new eight-year agreement that would make the football coaching staff among the 10 highest-paid in the nation, according to two sources with knowledge of the negotiations.
Following his final Orange Bowl news conference Thursday morning, Swinney seemed pleased with the direction and tenor of the deal, saying he wanted to further strengthen and extend the relationship.
Though details were sketchy, in broad strokes the deal calls for compensation to the coaching staff that likely would exceed $8 million, based on the most recent USA Today survey of salaries. Clemson assistant coaches are among the highest paid in the nation at more than $4.2 million.
However, though he certainly would agree his salary should be reflective of the school’s commitment to the program, Swinney said the scope of a new contract must also include further compensation to staff and solidify the promise of state-of-the-art facilities for the team and the fans.
Once they receive increases after a third consecutive season of 10 or more wins, Swinney could be in line for a bump from the current $2.2 million annually to a range of $3 million to $3.5 million.
Also, Swinney has championed incentives, such as the impact of a second ACC championship in a much more competitive league, and strengthening the bonus structure for academic progress scores and graduation rates.
Negotiations began in October and accelerated over the past couple of weeks. Swinney was mentioned as a potential candidate to replace Mack Brown at Texas. And though the smart money is on Art Briles of Baylor with Charlie Strong of Louisville reportedly next on the list, Swinney will not whiff on the leverage he enjoys.
As the coaching landscape shifted, his salary lost ground and he slipped deeper to the middle of the pack behind coaches with fewer accomplishments.
Among the factors that motivate Swinney to invest himself deeper is the wish that his sons finish high school in Clemson, which for the youngest would be in about eight years.
Swinney said he was encouraged by the vision of his partners, new president James Clements and athletics director Dan Radakovich. He called the hiring of Clements a “home run.”
One of the points presented on Swinney’s behalf is that he is the most visible face of Clemson, and that with five primetime TV games this season, his value to the university is immeasurable.
Preferring not to discuss ongoing personnel matters, Radakovich’s decision to proceed with plans to upgrade the boxes in Death Valley, construct a new football operations facility at the practice fields and revamp the game day facilities at the stadium are indicative of his commitment. A meeting Thursday with the Clemson Board of Trustees’ competition committee apparently finalized the details.
Clemson athletics generates approximately $70 million per year. Funding should come from an additional $12 million to $20 million in revenue over the next four years, once the stadium suites are refurbished and the ACC bumps its shares to league members from a retooled TV contract and proceeds from the new playoff structure.