Tennessee coach Josh Heupel received a contract extension through the 2028 season that will pay him $9 million annually plus incentives, the school announced Tuesday.
Heupel led the Volunteers to an 11-2 record last season and a No. 6 national ranking. Tennessee defeated Clemson 31-14 in the Orange Bowl as the Volunteers improved to 18-8 in Heupel's two seasons.
Heupel, who turns 45 in March, becomes the sixth Southeastern Conference coach to make at least $9 million per season, joining Alabama's Nick Saban ($11.7 million), Georgia's Kirby Smart ($11.25 million), LSU's Brian Kelly ($9.5 million), Texas AM's Jimbo Fisher ($9 million) and Ole Miss' Lane Kiffin ($9 million).
Overall, 11 coaches earn at least $9 million annually.
"The results over Josh's first two seasons speak for themselves," White said. "He and his staff have energized both our football program and our fan base with an aggressive brand of football, a competitive culture that creates leaders and a relentless approach to raising the bar every single day.
"Despite a brief period of dormancy, Tennessee never surrendered its status as a college football powerhouse. We just needed an innovative leader like Josh Heupel to reignite the spark. It's been fun to crash the party, but as Josh said after our Orange Bowl triumph, the best is yet to come."
Heupel was SEC Coach of the Year for 2022, a season in which Tennessee won its first eight games and was ranked No. 1 atop the season's first College Football Playoff rankings.
According to reports, Heupel made $5 million in 2022.
Under the revamped deal, he will have a base salary of $225,000 and receiver $8.725 million in supplemental pay. He will receive a $1 million bonus if the Volunteers win the national championship and there are other performance-based clauses for bowl games, and top 5, 10 and 25 finishes.
"Our staff takes great pride in representing the Power T, and it's something we never take for granted," Heupul said in a news release. "We will continue to work tirelessly to build a championship program that all of Vol Nation and all (Vols For Life) can be proud of.
"Most importantly, our players are the people who deserve all of the credit for our resurgence on Rocky Top. Over the last two years, they believed in us and poured their energy into every single day with hard work, leadership, cohesiveness and consistent habits. I am proud to be their coach."
Heupel's contact calls for him to receive the full compensation package if he is dismissed without cause prior to Dec. 15, 2025. It drops to 75 percent from Dec. 15, 2025 to Dec. 14, 2027 and to 50 percent from Dec. 15, 2027 through the rest of the contract.
Heupel has a 46-16 record in five seasons as a head coach. He went 28-8 in three seasons at Central Florida (2018-20) before leaving for Tennessee, a program that had compiled losing records in eight of the previous 14 seasons.
--Field Level Media