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January 18, 2013

Bennett to receive significant raise at River Bluff

Former Coastal Carolina football coach and current Socastee High School Athletics Director Dave Bennett will receive a significant raise when he he starts at River Bluff High School.

Bennett, who officially accepted the position last week, will be paid an annual salary of $95,782 at River Bluff, according to information released by the Lexington 1 district Friday. Bennett is making $58,711 this year at Socastee.

Bennett, who received a $925,000 buyout from CCU in March 2012 for the remainder of a 10-year contract he signed in 2007, was making $218,139 in his final year at Coastal.

In his new role, Bennett will serve as both the head football coach and athletics director, a combined role that helps boost the salaries of most of the state's highest-paid coaches. Horry County no longer allows head football coaches to also serve as athletics directors, with the exception of Conway's Chuck Jordan.

Jordan was already performing both roles before Horry County instituted the policy.

According to the current Lexington 1 salary schedule, Bennett would receive raises that take him into six figures in his fourth season there. According to most recent figures, only four high school coaches in South Carolina, including Jordan, are making at least $100,000 annually in 2012-2013.

Three of the state's 10 highest-paid coaches - Lexington's Scott Earley, Gilbert's Barry Harley and Pelion's Ben Freeman - are also inside the Lexington 1 district. Bennett will fall just behind those three in terms of salary.

Bennett's hiring at River Bluff will take him away from the Grand Strand for the first time since he was hired at Coastal Carolina in December 2001. At that point, he had approximately a year and a half to build the Chanticleer program. He did that better than most expected; Coastal earned a spot in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs in the team's fourth season on the field, the second-fastest progression in the history of what was formerly known as NCAA Division I-AA.

River Bluff will not play varsity football in 2013, meaning Bennett will have about the same amount of time to develop the Gators' football program as he did at Coastal.

However, exactly when he can concentrate fully on his River Bluff duties remains to be seen. He previously stated a desire to finish out the year at Socastee - where his son, Jeb, transferred to last summer. Either way, Bennett can't begin full-time at River Bluff until Horry County releases him from his contract, which expires June 30.

Lexington 1 has planned to have Bennett officially begin July 1, unless the Horry County contract is terminated sooner.

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About the author

Ian Guerin has been covering sports in Myrtle Beach since 2005 and in South Carolina since 2004. In that time, he has served as a reporter on the college and high school beats at multiple publications. You can reach him directly via ian@ianguerin.com.

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