There are now at least three college football assistant coaches making more than $2 million this season.
Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele joins LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda and Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables at that level, according to a new version of Steele’s contract the school provided to USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday in response to an open-records request.
Steele’s agreement — a three-year deal that began Jan. 1 — calls for him to receive $1.8 million in basic annual compensation this year, plus a $250,000 retention payment if he is employed by Auburn at the conclusion of the 2018 regular season. The retention amount would be paid on a pro-rata basis if he is fired without cause before the end of the regular season, which includes the Southeastern Conference championship game in the now-unlikely event that the Tigers (2-3 in SEC play) participate in it.
The retention payment also had been part of the prior version of Steele’s deal, under which he had been set to receive $1.3 million in basic annual pay for this season.
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Under the new contract, Steele’s basic annual pay is scheduled to be $1.9 million in 2019 and $2 million in 2020. He is no longer eligible for two pay components from his prior deal: $225,000 a year in bonuses connected to team defensive performance and an $83,333 retention payment that would have been due after next season.
Aranda makes $2.5 annually under a four-year contact approved in February. He made $1.8 million last season, which had been the largest annual pay amount for a public-school football assistant coach, according to USA TODAY Sports’ annual compensation surveys.
Venables makes $2.2 million this season, the first of a five-year deal worth a total of $11.6 million. Venables made $1.7 million last season.
Venables’ new compensation includes $200,000 this season, and $1.6 million over the life of the deal, in the form of premium payments on a life insurance plan. Clemson is set to recover the cost of the premiums, plus interest, from the policy’s death benefits.
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