CLEMSON — The terms of Dabo Swinney’s contract to be Clemson’s football coach reflect how rare it is for a school to promote the receivers coach to be the head coach.
It is not your typical arrangement.
Swinney, 39, will receive $800,000 annually in guaranteed compensation, perhaps ranking him as the lowest-paid coach in the ACC.
The lowest known salary belongs to North Carolina State’s Tom O’Brien, at $1.1 million. Boston College coach Frank Spaziani’s salary is not public record because the school is a private institution.
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Furthermore, Swinney can walk away from his five-year contract at any time without financial penalty. Should Clemson fire him, it would owe him the $750,000 he is due at contract’s end as a longevity bonus.
Swinney’s contract, recently signed despite his hiring in December, was released Thursday as a result of a public-records request by several media outlets, including The State.
Neither Swinney nor athletics director Terry Don Phillips could be reached for comment.
Swinney will make $1 million less than former coach Tommy Bowden, and the Tigers will pay this year’s staff $747,000 less than last year’s in guaranteed income.
After giving Bowden an extension a year earlier based on the team’s potential, Clemson only will pay Swinney handsomely if the Tigers reach the the ACC championship game.
If that happens, Swinney’s total guaranteed compensation will, for that year, be at least equal to the median total compensation among the ACC’s other coaches.
The league’s sixth- and seventh-highest-paid coaches last year were Maryland’s Ralph Friedgen (at least $1.55 million) and Duke’s David Cutcliffe ($1.5 million), respectively.
If Clemson wins the ACC championship, Swinney’s total pay for that year must at least match the average total pay of the seven highest-paid coaches in the league (about $1.783 million last year).
The school can deduct the amount of bonus money Swinney would receive if it gives raises to Clemson’s assistants or if Swinney desires to create another administrative position for his staff.