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USC's Clay Helton earned about $2.6 million in 2016

USC's Clay Helton earned about $2.6 million in 2016
USC head coach Clay Helton prepares to lead his squad on to the field for a spring practice at the Coliseum. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

USC football coach Clay Helton was paid about $2.6 million during his first season leading the program in 2016, according to the school's federal tax return for that fiscal year.

Helton coached the Trojans to a Rose Bowl victory over Penn State to end that season with a 10-3 record. In February of this year, he received a contract extension until 2023, but it is unknown if Helton was awarded a pay raise at any point since the 2016 season. As a private institution, USC is not required to divulge the salary information of its employees.

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The fiscal period of the most current available tax return covers July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017. USC provided the return in response to a request from The Times. Records for the 2017-18 fiscal year were not available.

In 2016, according to a database of college football coaching salaries compiled by USA Today, Helton would have ranked 46th in the country and 11th in the Pac-12. His peers then were Oregon State's Gary Anderson, Duke's David Cutcliffe and Vanderbilt's Derek Mason — none of whom coach at a traditional football power like USC.

Helton's 2016 salary broke down thusly: base ($2.3 million), bonus and incentives ($30,500), other reportable compensation ($249,530), retirement and other deferred compensation ($26,500) and nontaxable benefits ($51,661).

As a comparison, former USC coach Steve Sarkisian was paid $3.7 million in 2014.

In 2015, former USC athletic director Pat Haden fired Sarkisian and later promoted Helton to head coach after he went 5-2 in an interim role. After USC went 11-3 in 2017, Helton became the first Trojans coach to win at least 10 games his first two seasons.

Haden, according to the 2016 tax return, was paid about $2.8 million during that fiscal year, in which he stepped down as athletic director and remained at USC as a special advisor to the president.

USC basketball coach Andy Enfield was not included in the 2016 return's listing of the school's highest-paid employees. The last known salary for Enfield was $1.9 million in 2014. In 2017, Enfield signed a contract extension through 2023.

Twitter: @BradyMcCollough

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