Sylvester Croom left for the golf course Friday with the relief that months of contract negotiation had ended – and with a thicker wad of cash to spend in the pro shop.
Mississippi State on Friday announced it would pay its fifth-year head coach $1.7 million in 2008, the first year of a four-year deal that runs through the 2011 football season. Four-year contracts are the maximum allowable under state law.
It did not disclose salary figures for the other three years of the contract. Athletic director Greg Byrne left Starkville Friday on a family vacation to Oregon and didn’t return a phone message.
Though the raise – some $725,000, or 74 percent – was eye-opening to many, it only vaulted Croom ahead of Kentucky’s Rich Brooks among Southeastern Conference coaches whose salaries have been in published reports. (Vanderbilt, a private school, is not required to disclose numbers.)
The $1.7 million figure wouldn’t appear to be an accident, either – State’s archrival Ole Miss hired former Arkansas coach Houston Nutt for the same first-year price in December.
And in the ever skyrocketing scale of coaching salaries in the ultra-competitive Southeastern Conference, $1.7 million is only good for ninth place in the 12-team league.
Still, Croom says it’s progress.
“We’ve come a long way in the last four years in terms of making a commitment of making a championship program and doing things the right way,” Croom said. “We’re not where some of the other schools are but I think we’ve made a huge, huge improvement and I am totally satisfied with the financial package for myself and for my assistant coaches as well, and the commitment that the university has made.”