Now that Conference USA is allowing its member schools to provide additional cost-of-attendance scholarships to student-athletes, football programs like Middle Tennessee State have a better shot at attracting better athletes and giving them adequate financial support.
The only problem for MTSU is that its finances are already pretty tight. Finding the money to cover such scholarships proved a difficult venture. So head football coach Rick Stockstill made a tough decision of his own: he asked the school to delay a planned $100,000 raise, and to use those funds to cover cost-of-attendance scholarships.
Stockstill had the planned raise delayed by four years, meaning that over the life of the arrangement he will be giving up $400,000. Even for a man whose current salary is in excess of $720,000, it's a huge gesture toward the program.
Stockstill is also hoping that the financial relief will make it easier for the school to upgrade its football facilities.
"I wanted to do this," Stockstill told the Daily News Journal. "I came up with this deal, and I said don't pay me the $100,000 raise the first four years, so I'm saving $400,000 to get us through cost of attendance and to where, hopefully, we can get the facilities that we need to compete with everybody else in these next few years."
Along with amending his current contract with a new salary plan, the school also extended Stockstill by one season while increasing the requirements necessary for future contract extensions to take place. MTSU, which is coming off of a 6-6 season, has experienced three straight seasons of bowl eligibility.
Now the school wants such achievements to be commonplace -- contract extensions will only kick in when the football team wins more than half of its games, or has at least six conference wins.
Said the athletic director: "We wanted just a slight adjustment upward in terms of what our on-the-field performance was."
And Stockstill is hoping is sacrifices today will pay off in the long run.