Dabo Swinney's contract features hefty buyouts on both sides

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney applauds his players effort in the first half.

Photo by Nathan Gray

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney applauds his players effort in the first half.

— If Clemson or Dabo Swinney want to part ways in the near future, it will not be cheap.

Swinney, beginning his fourth full season as the Tigers’ head football coach, agreed in principle in June to a contract extension which runs through 2017 and pays him $1.965 million annually.

Clemson officials released his 22-page contract Thursday following Freedom of Information Act requests from the Independent-Mail and other media outlets. It features steep buyouts if Swinney is fired without cause or if he leaves Clemson for another position.

If Swinney is fired without cause, he will be owed 100 percent of his yearly salary in his first year post-Clemson, 90 percent his second year, 75 percent his third year and 60 percent for any year after.

For example, if Swinney was fired following the 2012 season, Clemson would owe him $7.75 million. If it happened following the 2013 season, it would be $6.35 million. After 2014, it would be $5.17 million. Following 2015, it would drop to $3.733 million, and following 2016 it would be $1.965 million.

If he departed for another position, Swinney would be on the hook for $3 million following this season, $2.5 million following 2013, $2 million in 2014, $1.5 million in 2015, $750,000 in 2016 and nothing in 2017.

Swinney’s new deal also contained a number of incentives. If he is Clemson’s coach on Nov. 30, 2013, he will receive a $500,000 longevity bonus. If Clemson makes the ACC title game, his annual salary will increase to the average of the ACC’s top five coaches. If the Tigers win an ACC title, the salary will meet the average of the top three ACC coaches’ contracts.

His assistants will benefit, too. If Clemson wins the ACC Atlantic Division, Clemson will provide a pool equaling six percent of the assistant coaches’ total salary to be distributed for raises. Win the ACC title? 10 percent. Win the BCS national title? 18 percent.

Swinney will recommend raises by Jan. 15, and will also be eligible for merit raises following an evaluation with the athletic director no later than 30 days following the conclusion of each season.

He will receive $150,000 for a BCS national title, or up to $200,000 if his team’s academic progress rate is equal or greater to the median rate of ACC and SEC public universities.

He will receive up to $100,000 for an ACC title or BCS bowl game win, and up to $75,000 for a BCS appearance. Swinney can also receive up to $50,000 if the Tigers win 12 games with the aforementioned academic success.

He will receive a $100,000 bonus for winning a national coach of the year award – such as the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year trophy he took home last January.

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Comments » 4

Bleedsorange writes:

I would put in overtime. For what he pays in taxes.

RazzMaTazz writes:

As I stated when TDP granted Tommy Bowden a $4M buyout, Clemson's multimillion dollar buyout obligation to Dabo is unecessary and foolish. Arkansas never offered Tommy a job and I don't think Dabo's phone is ringing off the hook with offers for better gigs than Clemson. I guess TDP didn't learn from his mistake of giving a pointless buyout to Bowden (whom TDP foolishly thought was a huge flight-risk, but is still unemployed). Dabo has no negotiating leverage and would have surely signed the contract with a MUCH smaller buyout-- probably even no buyout. Heck TDP could have probably made the buyout one-sided (only Dabo pays a buyout) and Dabo would have accepted the deal because Dabo has so little negotiating leverage. If Dabo wants to split, Morris is there to take over. Why incur a buyout obligation that is one dollar more than necessary? Dabo wouldn't have signed for less than a $7.5M buyout? C'mon. That's foolish negotiating, just like it was with Bowden.

I do like the incentive-based pay. The incentive for an API average of the ACC + SEC seems like a gimme though.

RazzMaTazz writes:

Thinking about this further... The other thing that's maddening about the buyout is the asymmetry. If Clemson fires Dabo Clemson pays $7.5M (which is unthinnkable bar to hurdle) but if Dabo chooses to go elsewhere, he (and/or his suitor) only have to pay $3M, which is rather manageable for a big-time program. So the buyout doesn't really keep Dabo from leaving anytime he wants; it just keeps Clemson from firing him for the next few years. I don't understand how TDP could negotiate such a bad deal.

I wish some reporter had the guts to ask TDP some hard questions about the the Bowden and Swinney buyouts. I've never heard anyone ask him about it.

I hope Dabo brings Clemson incredible success and (unlike with Bowden) the buyout never hurts Clemson.

TCB1977 (Inactive) writes:

Only Gregg Wallace would want to talk about someones contract. Look, we have a season that could be very special in front of us to focus on. Let's support this program, the Coaches, and the players that play for them. This is rediculous that the media would rather talk about a Coaches contract and buyout clause versus talking about the success that one has brought back to the program, including an ACC Title, and BCS Bowl Birth. Here we are, 2012 season fully underway, on the cusp of accomplishing a huge feat with a young vetern team, and we are talking about someones contract, this is "SAD"! I could honestly careless what his buyout clause is, cause to be quite frank about this subject, to coin a phrase that Coach Swinney used, "This Ain't our lawn to mowe", we're fans. As a fan, a supporter of the football team, players, I believe it is only fitting that we focus on supporting this team against Florida State this weekend, back our Coaches. Let the Coaches worry about the contracts and fans support the football team. Like Coach Venables was quoted saying, I'll say the same thing, this makes me want to throw up. Thanks GW, you really should consider working for SC and I don't mean Souther Cal.

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