Smart money: UGA makes Kirby first $13M coach

Sports

Georgia‘s Kirby Smart has received a new 10-year, $130 million deal that was approved by university officials Thursday in its annual athletics board of directors meeting. The deal makes Smart the highest paid football coach in the country and college football’s first $13 million coach.

Smart, who was scheduled to earn $10.75 million this year under his old contract, will see his salary increase to $13 million annually, and that money is guaranteed for at least the first half of his contract. His new deal runs through the 2033 season. Smart could also earn up to $1.55 million in bonuses. He is entering his ninth season as Georgia’s coach. His Bulldogs captured back-to-back national championships in 2021 and 2022 and won an SEC-record 29 straight games before losing to Alabama last season in the SEC championship game.

“I continue to be grateful and humbled by our administration’s commitment to our football program,” Smart said in a statement. “The current culture in collegiate athletics is everchanging and as challenging as it has ever been, so I truly appreciate the leadership that our team is continually provided. I have an immense pride for representing my alma mater and look forward to that relationship continuing for many years to come.”

Alabama’s Nick Saban had previously been the country’s highest-paid coach until retiring in January. Smart passes Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, who makes an average annual salary of $11.5 million. USC’s Lincoln Riley is also in the $11 million range in average salary, according to industry sources. Others making more than $10 million in average annual salary include Alabama’s Kalen DeBoer ($10.875 million), Texas’ Steve Sarkisian ($10.64 million) and Florida State’s Mike Norvell ($10.52 million). Sarkisian and Norvell both agreed to new deals taking them over the $10 million mark in January about the time of DeBoer’s hiring.

Since returning to his alma mater in 2016, Smart has guided the Bulldogs to two national championships, played for a third and won 13 or more games in each of the past three seasons. Georgia is the only team to have finished in the top seven of the final AP poll in each of the past seven seasons. With Saban retired, Smart is unbeaten against all active head coaches over the past five years.

Smart told ESPN last month: “I was brought here to win championships, but the thing I’m proudest of has been the consistency. I look back on Year 1 [when Georgia went 8-5] as a failure and not the standard, but every year after that we’ve been right there. Nobody else over that span can say they’ve finished in the top seven at the very end for seven straight years.”

Georgia athletic director Josh Brooks also received a raise and extension Thursday, taking his contract through 2030. He will make $1.275 million annually with $100,000 increases each year of the agreement.

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