After comments over the past few months about a new contract for Dabo Swinney, the Clemson University Board of Trustees formally approved a new contract for the coach this morning. The new contract makes Dabo one of the 10 highest paid coaches in the country at number 8 and the second highest paid coach in the ACC, behind Jimbo Fischer. The new deal runs through the 2021 season and is excellent compensation for Coach Swinney.
Because of state law, Clemson will pay Dabo $245,000 each year directly. He will also receive $800,000 in licensing costs for his name and other efforts. The remainder of the salary is termed supplemental income and includes things like sponsorship appearances, media appearances, and other job duties that can be used to inflate his salary.
Frankly the salary is deserved, especially when you look at what other coaches are getting paid to fail spectacularly like Hugh Freeze and Kevin Sumlin in the SEC. Dabo has accomplished more than either coach and his pay should reflect that. The big question is what is Dabo's buyout, and it is high. The buyout starts at $20 million this year and then drops to $18 million, $14 million, followed by $9 million, and then $5 million in 2021. It is a high buyout, but after looking at other coaches around college football it is not extravagant. It is in line with coaches like Nick Saban, Charlie Strong, and Kevin Sumlin so it is hard to complain, at least outside of the general, "everything is too high," concept.
Dabo's buyout if he wants to leave is still low. He will pay $6 million if he leaves now and then that number will decrease by $1 million each year. The key part to note is that he has no buyout if he leaves for the NFL. We've never discussed the idea much at STS because Dabo has never seemed to be the type of coach interested in the NFL, but with no buyout it could make things easier for an NFL team to make a run at him if Coach Swinney wants it.
Overall this contract is much better than the previous one. Despite high dollar amounts this contract is in line with the current college football landscape for buyouts and salary. For all the criticism we've levied at the athletic department over Dabo's last contract and Brad Brownell's current one, that isn't here for this contract either because of luck or design.