By JOEL COLEMAN
Full-scholarship student-athletes at Mississippi State, along with other Power 5 and FBS schools, will receive a full cost-of-attendance stipend beginning this year. We take a look at MSU’s plans for helping athletes manage that money below.
Mississippi State helping student-athletes manage stipend
By JOEL COLEMAN
Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen shouldn’t have much reason to worry about his finances these days. Now entering his seventh season with the Bulldogs, Mullen will be paid an average salary of $4.275 million over the next four years, courtesy of a contract extension he signed following last season. But Mullen wasn’t always so fortunate.
“I know I went to college a long time ago, but if I got a check from my parents for $20, that was pretty fantastic,” Mullen said last week at Southeastern Conference Media Days in Hoover, Alabama. “That would get me probably through two weeks of some pizza and a beverage or two on the weekend.”
Times have indeed changed for Mullen. He might could open his own pizzeria if he so desired.
Times have also changed for today’s student-athletes. Starting this fall at Mississippi State, and at other Power 5 and FBS schools, full-scholarship athletes will receive a full cost-of-attendance stipend. This money is designed to cover cost-of-living expenses that fall outside the athletic scholarship.
At MSU, student-athletes on full scholarship will receive an additional $5,126 per year according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, one of the highest amounts in the SEC. As a result, Mississippi State is doing all it can to make sure its student-athletes spend their extra funds wisely.
All MSU student-athletes will now be required to complete monthly financial education courses. Mullen said he believes this training will play a big part in teaching his players how to save and manage money.
“The more they understand about creating budgets, learning how to live and save some money, learning how to put some things away when a situation comes when they need it, I think it’s going to be invaluable for these young men,” Mullen said.
Such is exactly the result Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin is hoping for. Speaking with Jon Solomon of cbssports.com last month, Stricklin said he knows the teachings may not sink in for everyone, but MSU is going to do all it can to instill wise spending habits.
“We’re going to tell them we pay your monthly personal expense once you complete that month’s curriculum,” Stricklin said. “I heard people (in the college sports industry) randomly say, ‘We’re going to give athletes this money and they’ll spend it on headphones or tattoos.’ I started thinking, ‘That’s fine if they want to do it, but they should at least have some financial principles with savings or budgeting so they understand the basics.’”
Ultimately, Mullen feels the financial training can be taken far beyond the time his players are in school. Sure, some Bulldogs will go on to be professional athletes and have the ability to never worry about money again. But Mullen says no one can count on that.
“One of the hard things we deal with all these young men is every single one of them is under the impression that they’re going to sign a $50 million contract with the NFL,” Mullen said. “That is such a rarity. Most of them are looking to hopefully go get a job in education, a job as a teacher, as a coach, a job in sales, a job in the local police force, a job in the media – whatever career path they’re going on is probably not going to include playing football.”
Thus, when most student-athletes leave school, they will always go through life needing to adhere to some kind of budget.
“That’s why we worked on a program of having young men come in and just explain how to set up a bank account, how to set up a checking account, how to budget on a daily basis, how much do you need,” Mullen said. “If you told me, ‘Hey, you’re going to get $200 a month while you are in college as spending money for cost of attendance’, I would have thought that was unbelievable. We’re talking about more money than that, and so you say, ‘Hey, can you budget yourself on a certain way so that you can save some of this and help propel you for your future?’”