Chad Morris' new deal carries hefty buyout penalties, incentives

Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris checks his chart in the Tigers' game  against Wake Forest.

Photo by Mark Crammer

Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris checks his chart in the Tigers' game against Wake Forest.

— Clemson’s official release of offensive coordinator Chad Morris’ contract extension made one thing very clear.

Morris, one of the nation’s hottest assistants, might leave Clemson for a head coaching position in the near future, but there is little to no chance he’ll depart for a coordinator or assistant coaching position.

Details of his new six-year contract, obtained by the Independent-Mail through a Freedom of Information Act request, reveal that Morris will pay heavy buyouts if he leaves for a coordinator position.

When Morris was hired by Clemson last January, he signed a five-year deal worth $450,000 annually. His new deal runs six years, through 2017 (essentially a two-year extension), and pays him $1.3 million annually, making him the nation’s highest-paid assistant coach.

It gives him $1.05 million in additional annual “supplemental compensation” while keeping his original $245,000 annual base salary intact.

His buyout, however, is steep. According to the contract, if Morris leaves to accept a position as an assistant coach or coordinator from 2012-2014, he must pay Clemson a buyout equal to the sum of his annual total compensation multiplied by the years remaining on his contract. For example, if he left after next season, his buyout would be $6.5 million.

If he takes an assistant position from 2015-17, the buyout would decrease significantly; 25 percent of his annual salary multiplied by the years remaining on his deal.

His previous buyout? $50,000. If Morris leaves for a head coaching position, he will not have a buyout.

The deal also includes incentives to keep his salary very competitive.

If Morris is fired “without cause” before Dec. 31, 2014, he will receive the full amount of his remaining contract; if not, the contract states his remaining salary is “subject to mitigation.”

If Clemson wins the ACC title or finishes in the top 5 nationally in total offense, Morris’ salary would be guaranteed to match the average of the nation’s top 2 offensive coordinator salaries for the rest of the contract.

If the Tigers finish in the top 10 nationally in total offense, his deal would match the average of the top 3 offensive coordinators nationally for the rest of the contract.

Last week, coach Dabo Swinney said that at least six schools, including Ohio State and new coach Urban Meyer, had inquired about Morris’ services. OSU reportedly was prepared to offer Morris between $1.5 and $1.7 million annually.

“I’m very honored that this university has made a huge commitment,” Morris said Wednesday. “There were a lot of things going on, in the mix. As far as what’s going on here, it’s a great time to be a Tiger. You’ve got to respect that (commitment) and we don’t want to go anywhere. We’re completely happy with Clemson and our family is excited to be here.”

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