Coach postpones raise to help MTSU with cost of attendance

Football coach Rick Stockstill heard plenty of questions from his players and recruits about how much Middle Tennessee might pay for the cost of attendance. So he decided to do something.

He postponed his $100,000 annual pay raise for four years to help the university pay that tab.

''I want to do what's best for our players, what's best for our recruits, what's best for this program,'' Stockstill said Friday. ''Everybody's going to be doing cost of attendance, everybody's building new facilities. I'm doing everything I can to help not only this university, but our current players and our future players.''

The Daily News Journal first reported Stockstill's new contract.

Stockstill said he started thinking of how he could assist the Conference USA program in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, last season after his Blue Raiders asked what the cost of attendance will mean for them. Recruits he visited in December after the season ended had the same questions, and Stockstill had plenty of time to think about options while driving between states.

The coach approached athletic director Chris Massaro about restructuring the pay raise due to kick in this year. Stockstill signed the deal May 25, delaying his raise until January 2019. That frees up $400,000 while keeping his annual pay at $721,704 in exchange for an extension through December 2023 that adds more than two years to his deal.

Massaro said he wanted to make sure Stockstill really was comfortable with sacrificing money for job security. Massaro thinks they worked out a win for everyone with the revised contract. The athletic director says he's proud Stockstill is the first coach he knows of stepping up with money to help his players with the cost of attendance.

''It was all kind of driven by him,'' Massaro said. ''Having a first-class program and a chance to compete are more important to him. ... We locked down a great football coach for a long period of time whose values match exactly our institutional values.''

What Middle Tennessee will be paying student-athletes as part of the cost of attendance hasn't been finalized, though Masaro says they have up to four options. CUSA presidents are meeting next week to see what league schools are planning.

Middle Tennessee also has been talking about a new football building with weight room and possibly adding an indoor facility. Stockstill said money not spent on cost of attendance can help with those projects. The Blue Raiders went 6-6 last season and have trips to Alabama and Illinois with a home game against Vanderbilt on the schedule this fall.

Stockstill said he hasn't heard from any of his fellow coaches just yet since news of his revised deal broke Thursday night.

''But I've got a lot of texts from players, former players since last night just thanking me for thinking about us,'' Stockstill said.

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