CLEMSON - Dabo Swinney could double his salary if Clemson clinches a berth in the ACC championship game, but the Tigers' coach is free to enter the open market at any time.
If Clemson wins the ACC Championship in Tampa, Fla., on Dec. 5 and the FedEx Orange Bowl in January, Swinney's compensation next year could exceed $2.5 million.
If Swinney, after one season, chooses not to return to Clemson, he need only provide the university "15 days written notice," according to the contract.
The Tigers could clinch their first Atlantic Division title and a berth in the Dec. 5 league championship game with a win today against N.C. State and a loss by Boston College.
Clemson athletics director Terry Don Phillips was reluctant to discuss what might transpire when Swinney's performance is reviewed at season's end.
"We're always going to be very fair with our contracts," Phillips said. "We always review the market place and work to keep our contracts competitive with the market."
Greenville attorney David Wilkins, chairman of Clemson's board of trustees, deferred questions about Swinney's contract to Phillips.
Swinney's guaranteed salary this year amounted to $800,000 plus deferred compensation and fringe benefits.
If he chooses to leave, he would forfeit a $750,000 "longevity fund" payable upon fulfillment of the current agreement which runs through Nov. 30, 2013.
"At this juncture, that serves as a buyout," Phillips said. "That's money he would make if he otherwise left it on the table."
By clinching the Atlantic Division, Swinney would be guaranteed a jump to the median among conference coaches.
Based on coaching compensation figures published by USA Today, Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen is the sixth-highest paid coach in the ACC at $1.88 million, and Butch Davis of North Carolina is seventh at $1.7 million. The survey did not include salaries for coaches at Duke, Miami and Boston College since they are private schools.
Should Clemson win the ACC championship, Swinney's compensation would be determined by the average of the top seven coaches in the league.
Swinney has the option to defer any increase in guaranteed money or distribute a portion to the football staff.
In addition, he would be eligible for a number of academic and on-field performance bonuses. They include:
- $50,000 for an academic success bonus based on the NCAA's most recently published Academic Progress Rate.
- $35,000 for eight wins.
- $45,000 for nine wins.
- $100,000 as a participant in the ACC championship.
- $100,000 for winning the ACC championship.
- $100,000 for participating in a BCS bowl.
- $100,000 for winning a BCS bowl.
- $50,000 for being named ACC coach of the year.
- $100,000 for being named national coach of the year by the American Football Coaches Association.