Clemson‘s board of trustees has approved a new 10-year, $115 million extension for Dabo Swinney, placing him among the highest-paid coaches in college football. The deal will pay Swinney $10.5 million in 2022 and incrementally work up to $12.5 million at the end of the contract, putting Swinney in the so-called “$10 million club” along with Alabama’s Nick Saban, Georgia’s Kirby Smart, Ohio State’s Ryan Day, LSU’s Brian Kelly and Michigan State’s Mel Tucker.
Previously making about $8.3 million, Swinney’s average salary of $11.5 million over the next decade will make him the second-highest paid coach in the country behind Saban, who in August agreed to his own extension paying him an average of $11.7 million through 2029.
“It is hard for me to believe I am in my 14th full season as your head coach, and I remain eternally grateful and honored for the opportunity to continue coaching and developing young people of excellence at Clemson.” said Swinney in a statement. “This agreement is representative of what has been collectively built here and the success we’ve had both academically and athletically. It is a reflection of the ALL IN commitment of so many people, including our players, our staff, our fans, our administration and our University leadership. While I am certainly proud of our accomplishments on the field, the most rewarding part remains the relationships forged within this program and the ability to positively impact those around us.”
Swinney is 151-36 since taking over the Tigers for the final seven games of the 2008 season following Tommy Bowden’s resignation. He has won two national championships (2016, 2018), seven ACC titles (2011, 2015-20) and was named the national coach of the year by multiple outlets in 2015 after leading the Tigers to an undefeated regular season and their first berth in the College Football Playoff.
Clemson is 1-0 this season after topping Georgia Tech 41-10 in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game on Monday.
“I am appreciative of the support from the Board of Trustees to President Clements to ensure we can continue to build on a firm foundation, as Clemson football and Coach Swinney’s leadership are a key driver for our university,” said Clemson athletic director Graham Neff. “Coach Swinney and his family’s impact on our community and department cannot be understated, and his success and stability nationally is truly uncommon. It is critical that Clemson continue to invest in our football program, and ensure our head coach is at Clemson for a long, long time. The best is yet to come.”
The terms of Swinney’s contract also specify a higher buyout for the coach should he leave for Alabama, his alma mater. If Swinney leaves the Tigers for the Crimson Tide, he will have to pay 1.5 times more than if he left for any other school.
Swinney played wide receiver at Alabama from 1990-92, winning a national championship with the Tide before starting his coaching career in Tuscaloosa the following year. Swinney remained part Alabama’s staff through the 2000 season before joining Clemson’s staff in 2003 as a wide receivers coach. He remained in that role until he was named the interim coach following Bowden’s resignation.
“Over the past 20 years, Coach Swinney has impacted our football program, our university and the entire Clemson area community, in profound ways. The culture of success and achievement he has instilled in our student-athletes, through both on-field victories and academic accomplishments, is truly remarkable,” said Clemson president Jim Clements. “I’m excited Dabo, Kathleen, and their family will remain part of the Clemson Family for years to come.”
Swinney has transformed Clemson from a program struggling to stay relevant in the ACC into a consistent national power. For reference, Bowden was 72-45 from 1999-2008, never reached 10 wins in a season and never finished higher than 16th in the final AP Top 25. Swinney has topped the double-digit win mark in 11 straight seasons and finished in the top five of the final AP Top 25 six straight times (2015-20).
He has also transformed Clemson into a destination program for high-profile recruits. The Tigers have finished with a top-10 class five times under his watch and reeled in Cade Klubnik, the top-ranked quarterback in the Class of 2022, during the most recent recruiting cycle.