Friday July 19th, 2024 10:22AM

UGA's Kirby Smart becomes nation's highest-paid college football coach

By The Associated Press

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Georgia's Kirby Smart agreed to a contract extension Thursday that makes him the highest-paid coach in college football with an annual salary of $13 million.

Smart's salary bump of $1.75 million annually is part of the deal, which ties him to the Bulldogs through 2033. Based on the new 12-team playoff structure, he could also receive up to $1.55 million per year in bonuses, an increase from $1.3 million under the previous terms.

Georgia also gave athletic director Josh Brooks a one-year extension to 2030 that raises his salary by $100,000 per year, taking it to $1.275 million over the course of the contract.

Brooks is also eligible for up to $200,000 in bonuses bases on the overall performance of the athletic program.

Smart surpassed Clemson's Dabo Swinney, who is set to make $11 million in 2024 as the nation's highest-paid coach.

Smart's new deal takes the place of a 10-year extension worth more than $110 million that he signed in 2022, which came off his first national title. That contract started with $10.25 million in base salary and included annual raises, taking the total compensation to $12.25 million in 2031.

“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.”

Smart, who played defensive back at Georgia in the 1990s, has guided the program to unprecedented heights since he took over as coach in 2016.

The Bulldogs won back-to-back national titles during the 2021 and '22 seasons and made a strong run at an unprecedented three-peat this past season before taking their only loss to Alabama in the Southeastern Conference title game.

Under Smart, Georgia has compiled a dazzling record of 94-16 that includes a 56-9 mark in the SEC. The Bulldogs have won a pair of SEC titles, finished in the Top 10 of The Associated Press rankings the last seven seasons, and perennially landed high-ranked recruiting classes throughout his tenure.

With a strong group of returning players, led by quarterback Carson Beck, Georgia is expected to remain a leading national championship contender in 2024.

“I have an immense pride for representing my alma mater and look forward to that relationship continuing for many years to come,” Smart said.

The Bulldogs have lost only two games in the last three seasons, both to Alabama and now-retired coach Nick Saban.

Georgia President Jere W. Morehead said Smart has set “the definition of excellence for all of college football.”

“He has excited the Bulldog nation about what is yet to come after winning two national championships,” Morehead added.

The 43-year-old Brooks has served as the head of Georgia's athletic department since 2021.

“Josh Brooks has done a terrific job as athletic director and has positioned UGA athletics to thrive in a rapidly changing college sports landscape,” Morehead said. "Both Kirby and Josh love this university as loyal graduates. I congratulate both of them and look forward to their continued leadership in the years ahead.”

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