Clemson University

Clemson makes Dabo Swinney one of college football’s highest-paid coaches

Clemson AD Dan Radakovich discusses Dabo Swinney's new deal

Dabo Swinney is a top-three highest paid coach in college football
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Dabo Swinney is a top-three highest paid coach in college football

Dabo Swinney led Clemson to wins over Alabama and Ohio State in the College Football Playoff last season as the Tigers captured their first national title since 1981.

Swinney was rewarded for Clemson’s success when the board of trustees approved his new contract Friday morning.

The 47-year-old has a new eight-year deal that will pay him $54 million, or an average of $6.75 million per season.

“We’re incredibly excited about being able to get Dabo a new contract, eight years, have him here,” Tigers AD Dan Radakovich said. “What he’s done with our program is incredible. He means so much to our athletic department, our university, our community.”

Swinney is now the third-highest paid coach in college football by average salary behind Alabama’s Nick Saban and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh.

Saban makes an average annual salary of $8.1 million, while Harbaugh’s average salary is $7.6 million.

Radakovich said it was important to reward Swinney after Clemson’s national title and put him on par with other national title-winning coaches Saban, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher.

“The market’s now defined by those four individuals who are currently active coaches that have national championship victories,” Radakovich said. “It further includes Coach (Jim) Harbaugh at Michigan because he had a Super Bowl appearance. He’s been at a very, very high level.”

Swinney previously received a new contract from Clemson last April that was a six-year deal for an average salary of $5.3 million per season. He received a $4.55 million salary in 2016 and made an additional $1.45 million in bonuses.

His total salary in 2017 will be $6 million. It will increase to $6.2 million for 2018 and 2019. In 2020 he will be paid $6.3 million before going to $6.4 million in 2021.

Swinney will make $6.6 million over the final two years of the deal in 2023-2024.

“I want to thank President (Jim) Clements, Dan Radakovich and his team, the board of trustees, and the entire Clemson family,” Swinney said in a statement. “My family and I have been extremely blessed to be part of such an incredible university and community for the past 14 years.”

Meyer is the fourth-highest paid coach in college football with an average salary of $6.61 million, while James Franklin of Penn State rounds out the top 5 at $5.78 million after signing a new deal earlier this month.

It was always Clemson’s plan to get Swinney signed to a new deal before the start of the college football season.

While Swinney will receive more money up front the new contact does include less potential money for incentives.

The max incentives on Swinney’s previous deal totaled $1.7 million. The new deal caps out at $1 million.

If Swinney decides to leave Clemson his buyout is $6 million in 2017 and 2018 before dropping to $4 million in 2019.

The buyout decreases to $3 million before the end of 2020, $2 million before the end of 2021 and $1 million through 2022-2023.

Of the top five highest paid coaches in college football Swinney’s buyout is the highest.

“This contract makes a strong statement. It is a mutual commitment reflective of the program we have built and continue to build at Clemson,” Swinney said. “The Clemson family does so much to support our program and I couldn’t be more proud to be your head coach.”

DABO SWINNEY’s contract

Year Base Salary Supplemental Licensing Total

2017 $245,000 $4,155,000 $1,600,000 $6,000,000

2018 $245,000 $4,355,000 $1,600,000 $6,200,000

2019 $245,000 $4,355,000 $1,600,000 $6,200,000

2020 $245,000 $4,455,000 $1,600,000 $6,300,000

2021 $245,000 $4,555,000 $1,600,000 $6,400,000

2022 $245,000 $4,655,000 $1,600,000 $6,500,000

2023 $245,000 $4,755,000 $1,600,000 $6,600,000

2024 $245,000 $4,755,000 $1,600,000 $6,600,000

Signing Bonus (upon execution) $1,500,000

March1, 2019 $1,000,000

March1, 2021 $700,000

Total (Includes all Signing/Retention Bonuses) $54,000,000 ($6.75M APY)

Employer will fund upfront with premium payment not to exceed $1,000,000 a split dollar life insurance plan with vesting and benefits to be mutually agreed upon.


APR = $75,000 / $100,000 (*APR bonus language and values to remain existing)

ACC Championship Appearance= $50,000; + $150,000 for Win

Non-CFP Bowl Game Appearance (with 8+ Regular Season Wins) = $50,000


CFP NY6 Bowl Game Appearance = $100,000


CFP Semifinal Appearance = $200,000

CFP Natty Appearance = $200,000

CFP National Champion = $250,000 ACC COY = ($25,000) --or-- National COY Award = $50,000


Through December 31, 2017: $6M

Through December 31, 2018: $6M

Through December 31, 2019: $4M

Through December 31, 2020: $3M

Through December 31, 2021: $2M

Through December 31, 2022: $1M

Through December 31, 2023: $1M

Through December 31, 2024: n/a

University Buyout $5M x number of years remaining (years 1-6); Remaining Base/Supp/Licensing (years 7-8)

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