A closer look at the Alabama clause in Dabo Swinney's new Clemson contract

A closer look at the Alabama clause in Dabo Swinney’s new Clemson contract

New business.

Same Alabama clause.

Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney’s 10-year, $115 million contract, announced Thursday, extends it through the 2031 season while maintaining a higher employee buyout if he leaves school to train the Crimson Tide.

A similar clause was in Swinney’s contract in 2019, his last before Thursday’s.

Swinney’s annual employee buyout if he leaves to coach Alabama is 1.5 times higher per year than for any other college, according to a term sheet released Thursday. Swinney owes Clemson nothing if he leaves for an NFL head coaching job under his new contract.

“How I see it is Coach’s commitment to Clemson,” athletic director Graham Neff said of Swinney’s Alabama clause Thursday. “If you were to look at the buyout market, Coach’s buyout from Clemson before even one of the add-ons for Alabama is specifically the highest in its market, top 10 markets.”

Neff added, “That commitment he has to Clemson defines the market…that’s how I see those buyout dollars, because there are a lot of them across the country and in the market that aren’t a lot, even nothing. So even those Coach dollars are emblematic of his commitment to Clemson.

Entering his 14th full season as head coach of Clemson, Swinney twice defeated his alma mater Alabama to win the college football playoff national championships in 2016 and 2018 while becoming the sixth-fastest coach in the league. history of FBS reaching 150 career wins.

Swinney, who has won seven ACC championships and guided Clemson to six of the last seven college football playoffs, said in a statement Thursday that his new contract is “representative of what has been built collectively here and the success we have had both academically and athletically.This is a reflection of the ALL IN commitment of so many including our players, staff, supporters, administration and university leadership.

“The impact of Coach Swinney and his family on our community and our department cannot be underestimated, and his success and stability on a national scale is truly rare,” Neff said in a statement. “It’s critical that Clemson continue to invest in our football program and ensure that our head coach stays at Clemson for a long, long time. The best is yet to come.”

Why an Alabama clause?

Although Swinney, 52, doesn’t appear to be in a rush to leave Clemson, rumors have long swirled that he would be a top pick for the Crimson Tide following the retirement of Nick Saban, 70, who led Alabama. . at six national championships.

Swinney, a native of Pelham, Alabama, spent three years in Alabama as a wide receiver (1990-92) and coached there as a graduate assistant, wide receivers coach and tight ends coach (1993-2000 ) before coming to Clemson in 2003. He’s been with the Tigers ever since.

In August, Saban agreed to a one-year contract extension that keeps him at Tuscaloosa until 2029, when he turns 79, and pushed him ahead of former assistant and current Georgia coach Kirby Smart (11, $25 million) as the highest paid coach in college football. ($11.7 million).

With a new annual salary of $11.5 million, Swinney edged out Smart and trails only Saban in annual compensation. Here’s a closer look at Swinney’s employee buyout numbers for Alabama compared to other schools, along with other contract details.

Dabo Swinney employee buyout

According to the contract, “If the employee were to terminate prematurely for the purpose of accepting employment in another position with duties or substantially similar to a collegiate head coach,” Swinney would owe Clemson:

  • 2022: $9 million (Alabama HC buyout), $6 million (all other HC school buyouts)
  • 2023: $7.5 million (Alabama); $5 million (other)
  • 2024: $7.5 million (Alabama); $5 million (other)
  • 2025: $6 million (Alabama); $4 million (other)
  • 2026: $4.5 million (Alabama); $3 million (other)
  • 2027: $4.5 million (Alabama); $3 million (other)
  • 2028: $3 million (Alabama); $2 million (other)
  • 2029: $3 million (Alabama); $2 million (other)
  • 2030: $1.5 million (Alabama); $1 million (other)
  • 2031: N/A (Alabama); N/A (other)

The contract also states that there is “no amount owed” if Swinney accepts an NFL head coaching position and that “employee shall notify the athletic director prior to employee or its agents for another job”.

Performance incentives

The following annual performance incentives are listed in Swinney’s contract:

  • ACC Championship Game Appearance: $50,000
  • ACC Championship Game Win: $200,000
  • Non-CFP bowl game with more than 8 regular season wins: $75,000
  • New Year’s Eve Non-CFP Semi-Final Bowl: $150,000
  • CFP spawn (during expansion only) $150,000
  • PCP semi-final appearance: $250,000
  • Participation in the CFP championship: $250,000
  • CFP Championship win: $350,000
  • One-year academic progression rate (APR) ≥ 950: $75,000
  • Annual APR ≥ 975: $100,000
  • ACC Coach of the Year Award: $25,000

  • National Coach of the Year Award: $50,000

The maximum cumulative annual incentives are $1.5 million, per contract.

Other Redemption Notes

If Clemson fired Swinney “with cause,” meaning something inappropriate happened or was alleged, the school owes the coach nothing. If Clemson fires Swinney without cause, he owes Swinney the same depending on when that decision is made:

  • 2022: $64 million
  • 2023: $64 million
  • 2024: $60 million
  • 2025: $60 million
  • 2026: $57 million
  • 2027: Total remaining remuneration
  • 2028: Total remaining remuneration
  • 2029: Total remaining remuneration
  • 2030: Total remaining remuneration
  • 2031: Total remaining compensation

This story was originally published September 8, 2022 1:29 p.m.

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Chapel Fowler has covered Clemson football, among other topics, for The State since June 2022. He is a native of Denver, North Carolina, a 2020 UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus, and an avid basketball player. with previous stops at the Fayetteville (NC) Observer and Chatham (NC) News + Recording. His work has been honored by the Associated Press Sports Editors, the North Carolina Press Association, and the Associated College Press.

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