When Steve Spurrier hangs up his visor and headset, he could become the Gamecocks’ most-famous ambassador.
USC approved a new contract Thursday that gives the football boss another four seasons and a raise that puts him among the 10 highest-paid coaches in the country at $4 million per year.
But the new deal also includes an offer to work as a special adviser to USC president Harris Pastides and athletics director Ray Tanner after Spurrier stops coaching.
“It would be a great opportunity for us,” Tanner said.
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A conversation between Spurrier and Tanner a few weeks ago added this new wrinkle to the contract. They were chatting before the Capital One Bowl when Spurrier mentioned how he planned to stay in Columbia when he called it quits.
Tanner said nothing to Spurrier, but he started thinking about how the coach could help the school while living in town. He brought the idea to Pastides, who agreed about keeping Spurrier close to the school to help raise money.
Spurrier already helps the athletics department by meeting with donors and holding events at his home, Tanner said. Why not continue?
“I don’t know too many donors that would not be excited about having coach Spurrier visit for a lunch or maybe play a round of golf,” Tanner said. “I think he brings that kind of passion and enthusiasm (out of people).”
Tanner said he was not surprised Spurrier would call Columbia home after spending 10 years with USC and with some of his children and grandchildren settled in the area.
“I plan to remain here myself,” said Tanner, who has 17 years in Columbia.
The contract’s post-coaching plan, however, is not an exit strategy for Spurrier, who will be 72 when his current deal ends, Tanner said.
Asked if Thursday’s agreement was Spurrier’s last as Gamecocks coach, the director said, “I hope not.”
“Age is just a number when you’re talking about coach Spurrier,” Tanner added. “He’s in great shape. He works out every day. I’m glad I don’t have to follow him around. I hope he coaches many, many years. That’s good with me.”
Spurrier was not available for comment Thursday but said on his radio show this week that he had no plans to slow down.
After he earned $3.3 million this past season — the Gamecocks’ third in a row with 11 wins, USC trustees voted to give Spurrier a $700,000 raise that pushed his salary to ninth-highest in the country. He ranked 12th last season.
Spurrier received a two-year extension but no raise last year. He is USC’s winningest coach with a 77-39 record in nine seasons. The Gamecocks finished the season ranked No. 4 in the country, the highest ranking in school history.
Spurrier’s nine-coach staff, which is expected to remain intact for next season, got a 20-percent raise to $3.3 million from USC trustees.
Spurrier’s extra pay will come from a $700,000 hike in his base salary to $1.05 million.
With that, Spurrier will become the state’s highest paid employee. He’s tied for eighth with USC women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley, according to state records.
Spurrier overtakes Tanner, who earns $525,000.
The $2.95 million that Spurrier receives from the school’s television and apparel contracts does not count in his state salary.
Tanner said the athletics department, which does not get state funding, has the revenue to add to Spurrier’s paycheck. SEC schools are expecting a boost in cash with the start of a network later this year.
Spurrier’s postseason bonuses also increase. Spurrier could earn $550,000 for a national title, up from $400,000 this past season, and he could get $100,000 to $200,000 for making other bowls.
Staff writer Josh Kendall contributed.