"We've been very pleased with the leadership Coach Croom has provided the football program, and are glad to see that the details of his contract are complete," Dr. Watson said.
Croom agreed to a two-year extension on his previous contract through the 2011 football season this past January, but the financial details were not released at the time, awaiting Byrne's transition to the athletic director's position. Croom is scheduled to receive $1.7 million from all funding sources in 2008. It is also believed to be the first collegiate head coach's contract with Academic Progress Rate language included, the NCAA's new academic measurement component which penalizes programs that do not reach a numerical minimum.
"We are excited that Coach Croom's contract is signed," Byrne said. "He has brought our football program back to the level of play everyone anticipated when he was hired in 2004. Now, we all can turn our attention toward continuing the improvement process in football here at State."
Croom, the consensus Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year in 2007, led Mississippi State to an 8-5 record a year ago, a mark that included a win over Central Florida in the '07 AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
Croom was named the Grant Teaff National Coach of the Year by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, was named the American Football Coaches Association Region 2 Coach of the Year and was one of seven finalists for the Paul "Bear" Bryan Coach of the Year award. He was also a finalist for the Liberty Mutual National Coach of the Year.
Not only was Croom's team a success on the playing field, it achieved lofty heights in the classroom, as well. For the second consecutive semester, his football team set a new record for team grade point average, with 32 players recording a 3.00 GPA or better, and 11 earning diplomas in the spring.
"I appreciate the commitment that the university, the athletic department, the Bulldog Club, the Bulldog Foundation and the fans have made to our program," Croom said. "It is a long-term commitment for myself and our staff, and it is mutual.
"We are on track both on the football field and in the classroom with our student-athletes, and the APR language in this contract only further demonstrates that commitment," Croom said. "We haven't reached anywhere near the goals we have here. Our best days are still ahead of us. We will continue working to bring a conference championship to Starkville."