Clemson coach Dabo Swinney to make over $11M per year through 2031

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Clemson coach Dabo Swinney’s contract with the Tigers extends into the 2030s.

Clemson announced Thursday that it had signed Swinney to a new contract through 2031 that pays him over $11 million per season. The contract announcement comes after both Alabama and Georgia announced contract extensions for Nick Saban and Kirby Smart respectively.

“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,” Clemson athletic director Graham Neff said in a statement. “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.”

Swinney is in his 14th full season as Clemson’s coach and the Tigers have a 151-36 record in his time with the school. Swinney is 15 wins away from becoming the all-time winningest coach in school history and is set to achieve that benchmark early in the 2023 season.

The announcement is also the latest signal of the arms race at the top of college football. There hasn’t been a College Football Playoff national title game without either Alabama, Clemson or Georgia since the inaugural playoff after the 2014 season and the three programs have combined for 15 playoff appearances.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney points during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Georgia Tech Monday, Sept. 5, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr.)
Clemson has won 151 games under Dabo Swinney. (AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr.)

Smart got a contract extension this offseason after Georgia won the national title over Alabama in January. Smart’s contract also goes through 2031 and pays him $10.25 million in 2022. Smart’s deal is worth $112.5 million and it’s likely that it will get torn up and renegotiated again if Georgia continues its success.

Saban’s contract extension followed Smart’s in August after Smart’s 2022 salary surpassed Saban’s. The Alabama coach’s deal now goes through 2030 and Saban’s salary is now at $11.7 million per season. Saban was the highest-paid coach in college football in 2021 at $9.7 million and had received a contract extension in December.

The increases in top-tier coaching salaries come as schools are set to make even more revenue from college football in the coming years. The College Football Playoff is set to expand from four to 12 in the coming years and the additional playoff games will result in more television revenue for conferences. The Big Ten and SEC have also added schools like USC and UCLA and Oklahoma and Texas to increase the value of their television contracts. While Clemson is in the ACC and not set to get a windfall from ACC conference expansion anytime soon, the school’s football success means its no problem to give Swinney a raise.