Clemson makes Dabo Swinney the highest-paid college football coach with $93 million deal

Rings and trophies are not the only awards for national championships. After leading Clemson to its second College Football Playoff national title in three years, coach Dabo Swinney earned his second contract extension in three years.

The Clemson Board of Trustees Compensation Committee met Friday morning to approve a 10-year, $93-million deal for Swinney. It is the biggest contract in college football history, eclipsing the eight-year, $74-million deal Alabama awarded Nick Saban last year.

"I don't think the board can really capture the gratitude for coach Swinney and the way he has run his program," Board chair Smyth McKissick said before the unanimous vote to approve the contract.

Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney stands near the championship trophy during the champions press conference the day after the College Football Championship in San Jose, California Tuesday, January 8, 2019. (Photo: Ken Ruinard / staff)

Swinney will earn $9.25 million in the first year of the contract, including $8.25 million in total salary and $1 million for a split-dollar life insurance premium. That figure pushes Swinney ahead of all Division I bowl subdivision coaches for the 2019 season.

Swinney’s new salary will rank him first among Division I bowl subdivision coaches, ahead of Alabama’s Nick Saban, who will earn $8.7 million next season according to his contract. Swinney will also outrank Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh ($7.5 million), Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher ($7.5 million), Auburn’s Gus Malzahn ($6.8 million) and Georgia’s Kirby Smart ($6.7 million).

Three other coaches, Purdue's Jeff Brohm, Florida's Dan Mullen and Oklahoma's Lincoln Riley will earn more than $6 million next season. Twenty-three assistant coaches will earn at least $1 million.

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The Compensation Committee also approved new contracts for defensive coordinator Brent Venables, women’s basketball coach Amanda Butler, men’s basketball assistant coaches  and athletic director Dan Radakovich. 

Swinney signed his previous contract, an eight-year, $54-million deal, in August 2017, after winning his first national championship. Last season, his total compensation was $6.5 million, according to figures compiled by USA TODAY Sports. Swinney’s previous contract also granted him more than $1 million in performance incentives last season. He earned another $1 million retention bonus for remaining Clemson's coach through March 1.

Venables received a one-year contract extension Friday after signing a five-year, $11.6-million contract in February 2018 that increased his salary by approximately $500,000. Venables earned $2.2 million last season, the second highest figure among assistants behind Louisiana State defensive coordinator Dave Aranda ($2.5 million).

Venables received a $200,000 retention bonus in February, when Clemson increased the salaries of Swinney’s other nine on-field assistants. Offensive coordinators Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott were each given raises to $1 million. Combined, Venables, Elliott and Scott will earn more than $4.2 million in 2019. Merely 18 of the other 129 bowl subdivision teams pay more to all 10 of their assistants. 

Per his previous contract, Venables' salary would have increased to $2.4 million in the 2020 season.

Butler earned a $50,000 raise and a new five-year contract after directing a remarkable turnaround in her first season. Clemson improved its overall record by nine wins and reached the second round of the NCAA tournament. Butler was honored as the Atlantic Coast Conference coach of the year.

Contributing: Mollie Simon

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